I mentioned how Chad was killed in an auto accident the year after I taught him and had moved to another school. He was the third and last of my students or former students to have been taken this way.
The first occurred to Tyler in my very first year of teaching. He sat at the front of the class and was a very pleasant boy. He came into my class late, I think because he had recently transferred to my school. Whether he had recently moved to the area or just transferred schools, I can't recall. He did live in the country, so it was odd for him to commute to the city school in which I was teaching. One day he didn't show up to class, and the students advised me of the fatal accident.
About fifteen years later, another former student, Katrina, was also killed in an accident. I had taught her in a country school in the previous year. This was the most difficult passing for me because she had been an excellent student and enjoyed participating in my class, discussing Shakespeare or whatever literature we were studying at the time. I went to the funeral home to pay my respects and told the family how much I had appreciated having her in my class, and they replied that she had mentioned the class and enjoyed it.
I still remember her boyfriend, the driver who had escaped with few injuries, sitting forlornly all by himself while Katrina's family received us visitors. I'm sure there was blame, but I admired that he showed up when he must have felt absolutely terrible. I didn't know him, so I didn't offer any words of comfort, but to this day I still feel badly for him; the family at the very least had the comfort of mourners, but he had no one.
Although I spent more time teaching in a city school than a country school, all three of these kids lived in the country.
When I first moved to the country school, I heard about an activity called crop touring. Although first puzzled, I discovered that it was a euphemism for kids driving and drinking around the countryside. I don't know how much of it actually went on, and neither do I know for certain that any of these three accidents involved alcohol. Of course, I have my suspicions. Sadly.