Yukon schools respond after teen dies in crash

For the second time in just over a year, students and administration at Yukon High School are dealing with a tragedy.

Student Grace Katelyn Roark died late Friday in Comanche County after she missed a curve on a county road, and rolled her Jeep Wrangler multiple times.

Despite wearing her seat belt, the 16-year-old died at the scene of the accident, according to a report from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

She was a junior at Yukon High School,

She would have been 17 on Sept 10, said her mother, Betsy Roark.

Despite school being out of session Monday for Labor Day and Tuesday for a professional day for teachers, school officials brought counselors in to help students cope with the loss.

Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth said the school is doing everything it can to help students cope with the loss.

Simeroth said counselors were actually brought in on Sunday and will remain in place most of this week.

“We have a crisis team there to meet with students and parents, or anyone who knew the student,” he said.

Simeroth said he expects many students to participate in the services that are offered.

“It’s tough. It is the worst thing, as a dad, that I can possibly imagine – the loss of a child. For many of these kids, it is the first time they have experienced anything like this. It is never easy and we never want to ignore the facts that the students are hurting. That’s why we offer these opportunities for them,” he said.

Last year, senior Matthew Silva, died in an auto accident on his way to school. He was 17.

The latest tragedy occurred at about 11:25 p.m. Friday as Roark was returning to Yukon after visiting with family friends in Comanche County.

According to her mother, Grace rounded a “near 90-degree” curve and was unable to maintain control of her Jeep. She died at the scene, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

She was born in Bakersfield, Calif. She spent her early years in Cheyenne, Okla.

She and her family moved to the Yukon area in 2010. She attended school at Surrey Hills Elementary.

“Grace was excited about her junior year,” said her mother in an email. “She was eager to go to prom and start planning her future.”

She was a promising musician, her mother said. The teen played a number of instruments, including guitar, bass and ukulele.

Her goal was to become a music star, said Betsy Roark.

“She was special. … She included everyone. She was kind to everyone,” her mother wrote in an email.

“Many people told us of kind things she has done for them at school. No one is ever excluded from her group,” Betsy Roark wrote. “She did everything in her power to include people.”

She also was a staunch advocate against bullying,

“She was a voice for the voiceless. At our house we stand up for ourselves and stand up for those that can’t stand for themselves,” Betsy Roark wrote about her daughter. “We’ve always told my children to be the hands and feet of God, and she was that every day of her life.”

Grace was a member of the FFA, Partners Club, DECA and several other youth groups, her mother said.

She is survived by her parents, Travis and Betsy, as well as an older brother, Parker, and a younger sister, Alyson.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Friday at the Cheyenne, Okla., High School Auditorium.

A memorial service also is planned for 4 p.m. Sunday at Yukon’s First United Methodist Church.

Whinery-Savage Funeral Home in Cheyenne is in charge of arrangements.

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