USD 383 offers support after two students killed, one injured in fatal crash

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Published: Dec. 5, 2021 at 3:01 AM CST
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RILEY COUNTY, Kan. (WIBW) - Two teens were killed early Sunday morning in a single-vehicle crash in Riley County.

The fatal crash happened just after 1 a.m. on K-18 underneath the Scenic Drive overpass.

When they arrived, Riley County Police officers, Manhattan firefighters, Riley County EMS, and Riley County firefighters found an SUV engulfed in flames.

Five people were inside the vehicle; Paris Burgess, 17, Jean Vazques-Ponce, 14, Gaysha Alfred, 14, Kenni Cantu, 14, and Alecia Smith Haynes, 13.

Fund established for Gaysha Alfred, teen killed in fiery crash to assist in funeral expenses

A fund has been setup to help cover funeral expenses of a second Riley CO. teen, Gaysha Alfred, who died in a crash early Sunday morning.

Gaysha Alfred
Fund established for Kenni Cantu, teen killed in fiery crash to assist in funeral expenses

A fund has been setup to help cover funeral expenses of Riley Co. teen who died in a crash early Sunday morning.

Kenni Cantu, 14, was one of two teens killed in a fiery crash early Sunday morning on K-18 in...

The Kansas Highway Patrol said Alfred and Cantu were pronounced dead at the scene. Vazques-Ponce was life-flighted to KU Medical Center in Kansas City with serious injuries, the other two teens went to a local hospital with minor injuries.

KHP said the SUV, driven by Burgess, was headed east on K-18 when she lost control for an unknown reason. The vehicle left the road, crashed into a concrete bridge pillar, and caught on fire.

Two Riley County Police officers helping at the scene also had to go to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Three teens involved in the crash, including the two that died, were students in the USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden School District. Superintendent, Dr. Marvin Wade, informed families of the tragedy in a statement released Sunday afternoon.

“It is with great sadness that I am informing you of the death of two of our students,” Dr. Wade continued saying, “While words cannot express our collective grief and sadness at this tragic news, I recognize the importance of you having this information as quickly as possible so it can be discussed within your family prior to tomorrow’s school day.”

Alfred and Cantu were students at Eisenhower Middle School in Manhattan and Vazques-Ponce was a student at Anthony Middle School.

Dr. Wade said, “We have implemented our Emergency Response Plan to provide support to students, staff members, and families during the difficult days and weeks ahead. Counselors and other school staff will be available in the school setting to assist students and staff.”

He also thanked parents for their support as they work to cope with the loss and asked them to observe their children closely for signs of distress that may require additional support and guidance.

Dr. Wade said parents can call the school with any concerns or questions.

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