Deaths bring 'sad faces' to school

PARIS — Members of the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School community spent Monday coming to grips with the weekend deaths of a current student and a former student.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

"Everybody loved her," said Katrina Tetreault, 19, a cousin of Rebecca Mason, 16, who was killed in an auto accident over the weekend in West Paris. "I don't know anyone at Oxford Hills that didn't know her. It was a surprise for everyone." Tetreault visited the memorial at the site of the crash on Route 219 Monday to place flowers in Mason's memory.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Friends and family members of Rebecca Mason, 16, of West Paris, and Logan Dam, 19, of Norway, have placed flowers and crosses at the site of the auto accident on Route 219 in West Paris that claimed their lives early Saturday morning. The driver Kristina Lowe, 18, of West Paris, is in critical condition at Maine Medical Center in Portland and another passenger, Jacob Skaff, 22, of South Paris, suffered a head injury.

Submitted photo

Rebecca Lynn Mason

“I wanted to do something but I didn't know what to do,” said a tearful Autumn Berry, a junior at the school late Monday afternoon.

With tears streaming down her face, she sat in a car with her mother on the side of Route 219 in West Paris, overlooking the steep embankment where the car carrying four current and former Oxford Hills School District students shot off the road into a stand of trees early Saturday morning, killing two of the passengers.

Berry, who lives in Waterford, was one of many students at the school who were trying to come to terms with the accident that killed Rebecca Lynn Mason, of West Paris, an OHCHS sophomore, and Logan Dam, 19, of West Paris, a former OHCHS student.

The driver of the car, Kristina Lowe, 18 of West Paris, a 2011 graduate of the school and a certified nursing assistant at Market Square Health Care Center, remains in Maine Medical Center in Portland with serious injuries.

Jacob Skaff, 22, of Paris, also a former OHCHS student, was treated and released at Stephens Memorial Hospital. Police say drinking and texting were the cause of the crash. Though injured, both Lowe and Skaff left the scene of the accident, police said.

The approximately 1,160 students started their day with a moment of silence for the accident victims, OHCHS junior Skylar Bullard of Norway said. “Everyone had sad faces,” he said.

“It's pretty impossible to have a normal day,” said Principal Ted Moccia, who met with his staff before the start of school Monday morning to discuss how they would handle the various emotions the students would bring to school with them over the deaths.

“We're processing and working our way through as a school. This is such a sad waste of lives,” he said.

“The counselors are doing a great job,” Moccia said of the grief counselors who have been in the school throughout the weekend and will be available Tuesday and beyond if necessary to help the students cope with the tragedy.

Moccia described Mason as a nice and intelligent girl who liked to play field hockey.

“She was just a great kid. Our hearts and emotions go out to these families,” he said.

In Mason's obituary, her family wrote of the girl they knew as Becca: “Rebecca's life was like a shooting star, beautiful and bright traveling across the sky for all to see, full of potential and energy, but ending much too soon. She touched so many hearts, and left behind fond memories to be cherished forever. Those of us who loved and knew her, family and friends, anyone touched in some small way by Becca, let us all live a little better; try a little harder; and love a little more. These are the things Rebecca Lynn Mason would have added to our world.”

Dam attended Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School and had been employed this year at Sunday River and Camp Wigwam as a chef and line cook. He enjoyed being with his friends, motorcycling, skiing and snowmobiling, according to information in his obituary.

“The wind has been taken out of their sails,” said one teacher of the student body's attempt to deal with the tragic loss of their fellow students.

This was the second accidental death of a student at the high school since classes for the new school year began in September. Albert C. Roberti Jr., 14, of Paris, a freshman at the high school was killed in September in an ATV accident when he crashed his all terrain vehicle into the back of his friend's ATV.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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Comments

AL PELLETIER's picture

Disagree?

If today you were overcome with grief while making funeral arrangements for your dead son or daughter I don't think you'd be disagreeing with my ideas. What a fool!

Heather M. Conley's picture

I SO AGREE WITH YOU. tHIS IS

I SO AGREE WITH YOU. tHIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY I WILL NOT ALLOW MY CHILDREN TO GET THEIR LICENCES UNTIL THEY ARE 18. THESE KIDS ARE SO IRRESPONSIBLE NOW A DAYS AND I THINK THERE SHOULD BE A 2 YR GRACE PERIOD ON A PERMIT FOR ALL TEENS WITH A RESPONSIBLE ADULT IN THE VEHICLE WITH THEM. NOTICE I SAID RESPONSIBLE ADULT...NOT ALL PARENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE EITHER.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Thanks Heather

I came very close to losing one of my daughters to Krohns disease. The thought of losing her was overwhelming and so hard to cope with. I know the pain these parents are experiencing. Thank God Kellie is alive and well today but if I would have lost her the pain would have never ended. Things just have to change but they will only change when our lawmakers earn their keep and act now.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Just ain't right.

Something is horribly wrong when this type of tragedy happens over and over again. Young inexperienced drivers, booze, cell phones, excessive speed and parties are the five things that are causing such sadness and loss of life. This is what needs to be done:
1. Drivers permits can be issued at 16. Between 16 and 18 an adult must accompany the student driver. At 18 a conditional license is issued until the age 21. The condition being, one traffic infraction will cost you your license until your 21.
2. Anyone caught supplying booze to an underage person gets an automatic five years in the slammer and longer if loss of life involved.
3. Pass a law banning all cell phone use by anyone operating a motor vehicle. Fist time your caught $100.00 fine, second time you lose your license for 30 days and a $500.00 fine. Strike three, kiss your license away for life.
4. Fines doubled for any driver under 21 caught going 10 miles over the posted speed limit and loss of license.
5. Hard to stop parties but if the last four suggestion became reality the parties might drop in attendance.
Until such drastic steps are taken nothing will change, kids will needlessly die and we'll have to relive this sadness over and over again

Heather M. Conley's picture

I agree the parents need to

I agree the parents need to teach more about the consequences, but these kids should also know right from wrong at these ages. I personally think that getting a licences should be age 18. As an adult at 18 they will or should know the outcome of such driving infractions and results of irresponsiblities of driving. Cell phones and alcohol are the biggest causes of underage driving along with inexperience. let them get permits at 16 but make them get the driving experience for a couple yrs with a responsible adult with them. I think the state needs to make some big changes to the driving age and laws. This is just one sad situation in this state last years death rate among teen drivers was extremely high and there is no need of this at all. Hope the state of maine makes changes soon because if not im afraid we will have less and less kids that are still with their families instead we will have more fatalities. Just my opinion, and i as a parent refuse for my children to get a licence til they are 18.

 's picture

It's a matter of choices, we

It's a matter of choices, we chose to live quietly or with a great deal of drinking and partying. These kids made the wrong choice and now their families have to pay the penalty of great sadness and loss.
It is sorrowful that this happens all to often. Choices, when will we teach that such choices can have great consequences?

Heather M. Conley's picture

This is so sad. The young

This is so sad. The young lady driving has just thrown her life a way taken the life of 2 others and injured herself and 1 other. A teenager texting and drinking and driving. we are seeing so much of this with teens and im wondering if maybe they should make the law on getting licences 21. These teens now a days just are showing that they are responsible enought to get there licences. Or at least the age of 18 with heavy stipulation. I send my condolences to the families and hpe the other heal and are going to be ok. It frustrates me to see all these bad accidents and the majority is teens. Cell phones were the worst invention ever. They cause way to many distractions and teens arent able to ignore their phones when they go off.....

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