Without answers, a community mourns

Eagle Point is still reeling from an unfathomable tragedy. Healing will come, but time cannot erase the memories of three young women taken from their families and friends just weeks away from graduating and moving into the next phase of their lives.

Eagle Point School District officials reacted swiftly and appropriately to the devastating news that a car driving south on Interstate 5 inexplicably had turned around and headed back north in the southbound lanes, colliding nearly head-on with the car carrying Luciana Tellez, Gisselle MontaƱo and Esmeralda Nava. Everyone involved was killed in the Saturday crash north of Rice Hill.

School officials opened the doors of Eagle Point High School Sunday afternoon, and counselors were available to meet with students. A vigil that evening in Burns Park in White City drew a large crowd to remember and honor the three friends.

On Monday, Eagle Point Superintendent Cynda Rickert met with news reporters. Her voice frequently choked with emotion, Rickert expressed the sorrow everyone in the community was feeling, and emphasized the district’s commitment to provide the support and counseling students need to cope with the tragedy. She thanked neighboring districts for offering the services of their counselors.

In the coming days, more information may become available about the driver of the wrong-way vehicle, who also was killed. His identity had not been released when this was written.

The driver’s decision to turn around and head back against traffic makes no sense. We can hope the investigation of the crash yields some answers. In the meantime, we do what everyone faced with an incomprehensible tragedy must do: We mourn, reach out to those who are hurting, and go on as best we can with the business of living.

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