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Guidance Counselors Working with Grieving Students
 

CLAY COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Many of the teens from the accident are Clay County High Schools students. With school almost back in session, those teens will be working to recover.
 

Joanne Exline is Clay County High School's guidance counselor. She says her heart sank when she heard news of the accident. Exline was scheduled to be at school Wednesday already for meetings, but she's now there if students need to talk.
 

School doesn't begin for a few more weeks, but normally grief counselors would be on hand. When they go back to school, Exline says students will most likely plan some sort of vigil for fatal victim Kara Conley and the others hurt in the wreck.
 

“Our students usually, I imagine, would request a prayer around the flagpole. They usually do that when something like this happens. They won't forget her this year. There will be lots of reminders of Kara throughout our school year, I'm sure,” Exline said.
 

She adds, they will try to keep things as normal for students when they return to school. Clay County starts Aug. 22.

UPDATE 8/14/13 @ 11:20 p.m.
CLAY COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- With barely an empty seat in the room, one-by-one neighbors filed into Clay County High School's auditorium. Hundreds gathered to hear a message of love and faith after a series of tragic events hit the small community.

“We as a county want to bind together and strengthen those families that were hurt ,” said Pastor Daniel Tanner of the Floa Missionary Baptist Church.

Many families in the area are hurt after the accidental death of Clay County freshman Dillon Dawson in March of 2012.

Then months later in August, the deaths of West Virginia State Police Cpl. Marshall Bailey and Trooper Eric Workman. Both died in the line of duty.

And most recently, a fatal wreck claiming the life of 17-year-old Kara Conley.

Wednesday's prayer service comes exactly one week from the accident that killed the rising senior and injured 10 others -- all of whom are connected to Clay County High School.

“The staff and students will come back with heavy hearts, obviously, not only for Kara, but for the other ten that were injured. But if nothing else, Clay County is resilient,” Clay County High School Principal Melinda Isaacs said.

People at Wednesday’s prayer service said the message came not a moment too soon -- and the location? At Clay County High School, the home of the Fighting Panthers: no place more fitting.



UPDATE 8/14/13 @ 1:20 p.m.
CLAY COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A community, still trying to heal after a devastating car crash, will come together Wednesday to remember a teenager whose life was cut short.

A countywide church service will be held on the football field at Clay County High School at 7 p.m.

The community will come together to pray for the families of Kara Conley and 10 of her friends. Kara died last week and her friends were hurt in a car crash on Route 26.

Conley was just 17 years old and a student at the school.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/10/13 @ 6:55 p.m.
MOREHEAD, Ky. (WSAZ) – Family and friends at Kara Conley’s funeral service on Saturday described the teenager as fun and full of life.

Conley, 17, was killed when the truck she was riding in flipped early Wednesday morning in Clay County, W.Va. She was one of eleven teenagers in the truck at the time. The rising senior at Clay County High School lived in Rowan County, Ky. until recently.

“She was always just fun to be around, you know. She'd come in from West Virginia, she'd always come over and stay with us,” Chris Duffy, whose daughter-in-law is Conley’s sister, said. “She's going to be missed quite well.”

A collage of photos in the funeral home lobby showed Conley smiling and posing with family and friends. Inside and outside the service, many of them cried and remembered her as someone who was outgoing, friendly and bubbly.

At the service, Conley was remembered for her loves of singing, four-wheeling, helping children with special needs and spending her time with her nieces and nephews.

When Duffy’s son called him to tell the family about Conley’s death, Duffy said everyone was very torn up.

“You always expect to go before the young ones do, and I couldn't imagine burying one of my kids. It would tear me up,” Duffy said. “Why did it happen? I mean, she's young [and] full of life.”

As Conley’s casket was lifted into a hearse and dozens of cars drove off toward the cemetery, Duffy and others said Conley would be missed.

“Kara, you might be gone, but we're still going to remember you,” Duffy said.



UPDATE 8/8/13 @ 12:15 a.m.

CLAY COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A teen involved in a deadly Clay County accident is speaking out about the horrific experience.

Cory Barnes, 19, was riding in the back of a pickup truck with ten other teenage friends. The truck crashed early Wednesday on Route 36 near the Wallback exit of Interstate 79.

The collision killed 17-year-old Kara Conley and seriously injured several others.

Barnes says he had just met Conley that night.

"It just upsets me real bad that it happened to someone like that, just starting her life," he said.

The friends had been out on a ghost-hunting mission just trying to have a good time, according to Barnes. He says he never dreamed he'd come away with battle scars and a new appreciation for life.

"I have scars all the way up and down my back, and my hand is swelled up," he said. "I don't know if anything's broken or not. [But] I'm still alive and I can talk today."

His mother, Josie Barnes, is looking after his three-year-old son while he recovers.

"I hope it puts it in a lot of perspective for all them involved, and their friends as well," she said.

Cory says he doesn't remember much about the night except thinking about his son.

"They said when I was in the ambulance, I kept asking over and over, 'how's my little boy doing?'" he said ."I thought he was with me, I couldn't remember."

Cory says two other teens were seriously hurt in the crash and are not doing well at this time.

State police are still trying to determine whether drugs or alcohol played a role in the collision.

Troopers say they did find a small amount of marijuana in the truck.

No word yet if the driver will face any charges.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updates.

UPDATE 8/8/13 @ 12:15 a.m.
CLAY COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Classes for Clay County High School this year will start on a somber note. Nearly two weeks before the first day of school an early morning car accident seriously hurt as many as ten students and killed 17-year-old Kara Conley.

Conley’s mother and older sister spoke with WSAZ.com Wednesday and wrote in a handwritten letter:

“Anyone who knew Kara knows how incredibly special and unique she truly was. She brought laughter to everyone …She was beautiful inside and out and words can't begin to describe how much she will be missed.”

Throughout the day Wednesday, friends consoled each other on social media using hash tags #prayforclay and #RIPKara.

The deadly wreck happened at about four Wednesday morning. Kara and 10 others were riding in a pickup truck along Route 36 in Clay County when the truck swerved off the road.

“We blame no one for this but hope that valuable lessons were learned,” Kara’s mother and sister wrote. “Our prayers are with the families and children that were also affected by this tragedy.”

In a time of incredible sadness and grief- Kara's family is turning their attention to her friends and classmates saying "Kara would want her friends to be okay."



UPDATE 8/7/13 @ 7:55 p.m.
CLAY COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A teenage girl has died, and 10 others have been injured after an early Wednesday morning crash.

It happened about 4 a.m. along Route 36 -- about 2 miles from the Wallback exit of Interstate 79.

Police have been told the victims were ghost hunting, but their search for the supernatural turned into a real-life tragedy.

“It woke me up. The crash was so loud,” Jeremy Mullins said.

Mullins lives just yards from the scene. He called 911 and jumped into action.

Every single person involved was hurt. Some couldn't even get off the ground.

“Your heart’s pumping when it's going down,” Mullins said. “You just help the ones you can and move on to the next.”

Overall, 11 people were in the truck: ages 14 to 20.

Mullins realized just how bad it was when he tried to help a 17-year-old girl.

“I went down to feel for a pulse. I couldn't get one,” Mullins said. “There was no way I could get the vehicle off to help her.”

Kara Conley didn't survive. She’s a rising senior at Clay County High School.

“Exuberant, outgoing, friendly, nice,” Guidance Counselor Joanne Exline said. “All the nice things you can say -- pretty.”

State Police say the 18-year-old driver lost control, hit the guard rail and a tree.

It's unclear yet whether drugs or alcohol were involved.

“We're not sure yet. Hopefully there was nothing else involved but them just out looking for ghosts,” Sgt. Greg Stalnaker said.

Troopers did find a small amount of marijuana in the truck and are looking to see if that played a factor.

Regardless of the cause, the outcome is what Mullins is still struggling with.

“Especially when a 14-year-old was involved,” he said. “It wasn't pretty.”

Once the investigation is over, police will work with prosecutors to decide whether the driver should face charges.

Police say they've had problems with him in the past, but couldn't elaborate because he was a juvenile at the time.

Police say the injuries of those hurt in the crash range from minor to severe.



UPDATE 8/7/13 @ 11:15 a.m.
CLAY COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- New information is being released about a crash that killed one teenager and injured 10 others in Clay County Wednesday morning.

The crash happened about 4 a.m. along Route 36, about two miles from the Wallback exit.

West Virginia State Police tell WSAZ.com that 11 people were in the truck when it hit a guardrail and flipped, landing upside down in a creek.

Investigators say six were in the cab and five were in the bed.

17-year-old Kara Conley died in the crash. Investigators believe she was riding in the bed of the truck when it flipped.

West Virginia State Police say the driver of the truck is 18 years old. They say he is in rough shape. At this point, no word if he will be charged. Investigators say they have had problems with him in the past. They did not elaborate on his criminal history.

The others in the vehicle were 14-20 years old. They have been taken to four different hospitals, with injuries ranging from minor to severe.

Investigators tell WSAZ.com that there was a small amount of marijuana found in the car and they are still looking into that evidence.

State Police say they have been told the teens were ghost hunting when they crashed.

We have a crew on the scene.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 8/7/13 @ 9:40 a.m.
CLAY COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A 17-year-old girl is dead after a pick-up truck carrying 11 people crashed in Clay County.

The accident happened just before 4 a.m. along Route 36, about two miles from the Wallback exit in Clay County.

A spokesperson with West Virginia State Police tells WSAZ.com Kara Conley, 17, was pronounced dead at the scene. 10 others were hurt and taken to local hospitals.

Emergency responders at the scene say it appears the driver fell asleep, hit a guardrail and flipped the truck. The truck landed upside down in a creek.

One person was flown to the hospital, according to EMS crews.

The victims names have not been released, but we do know it was a group of high school students. Their conditions have not been released, but their injuries do not appear life threatening.

Dispatchers say the truck was the only vehicle involved in the crash.

Emergency crews say three people were in the cab, four in the back seat and the rest of the victims were in the back of the truck.

An 18-year-old was driving the truck. The other people in the truck range from 14 to 20 years old.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/7/13 @ 7:20 a.m.
CLAY COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A pickup truck carrying 11 people crashed early Wednesday morning, leaving one person dead and 10 others hurt.

The accident happened just before 4 a.m. along Route 36, about two miles from the Wallback exit in Clay County.

911 Dispatchers tell WSAZ.com one person was killed in the accident. 10 others were taken to the hospital.

Emergency responders at the scene say it appears the driver fell asleep, hit a guardrail and flipped the truck. The truck landed upside down in a creek.

One person was flown to the hospital, according to EMS crews.

The victims names have not been released, but we do know it was a group of high school students. Their conditions have not been released, but their injuries do not appear life threatening.

Dispatchers say the truck was the only vehicle involved in the crash.

Emergency crews say three people were in the cab, four in the back seat and the rest of the victims were in the back of the truck.

Route 36 was closed for a couple hours, but right now one lane is back open to traffic.

No other information is being released at this time.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY 8/7/13 @ 6:15 a.m.
CLAY COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An early morning crash has shut down Route 36 about two miles from the Wallback exit in Clay County, W.Va.

It happened about 3:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Dispatchers confirm that emergency crews are on the scene.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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