School mourns former student killed in crash

Cascade Christian High School students and teachers remember Kiana Rechberg as athletic, creative and devoted to her Christian faith, a girl who had a deep empathy for others and made everyone around her feel welcome.

"She was just a very genuinely loving person," said Cascade Bible and history teacher Jered Gritters.

Rechberg, a 19-year-old Southern Oregon University student who graduated from Cascade Christian last year, died in a traffic crash Nov. 23 on the coast during a trip to visit family.

According to an accident report from the California Highway Patrol, Rechberg was traveling southbound on Highway 199 just south of the Oregon/California border in her 2004 Mini Cooper when she lost control. Her car slammed into a 2001 Saturn driven by Cave Junction resident Vincent Becker, 22. The Saturn struck the Mini Cooper on the right side. Rechberg sustained fatal injuries in the crash.

Becker and his two passengers, Anthony Becker and Augustine Duarte, both 18, suffered a variety of injuries, including a broken foot, bruised ribs, lacerations and abrasions. (Correction: The spelling of Duarte's first name has been corrected in this story.)

Investigators don't yet know why Rechberg lost control, but the weather was cold and rainy.

"Something of this serious nature, we take our time. We don't want to send out the wrong message," CHP Sgt. Del Gray said.

The news was a shock to many at Cascade Christian.

"I didn't really think it was real," said senior Mallory Malot, 17.

Mallory's twin, Madison, said she looked up to Rechberg as a role model. She'd spoken to her Bible class and told her life story, sharing how her faith had kept her grounded throughout her life.

"I was definitely impacted by her a lot," Madison said.

Family members could not be reached for comment.

Others at Cascade Christian remember Rechberg as a volleyball, tennis and basketball enthusiast they say wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. She was already on that career path, volunteering her time as an aide at Grace Christian School.

English teacher Suzanne Ray said she remembers Rechberg as a skilled writer and poet. She also remembers her as an empathetic and encouraging person.

"You could tell she was going to be a really caring and wonderful teacher," Ray said.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.

Share This Story