Community bands together after local tragedy

Adriona Murphy

When teachers and staff arrived to Davey Elementary last Monday morning, they were prepared to deliver some difficult news — a 7-year-old student had been killed in a car accident over the weekend.

After the accident was confirmed, the school’s principal, Abbey Bolton, sent out a call explaining the incident to the parents of the elementary school. About an hour later, George Joseph, superintendent of the Kent City School District, sent out a similar all-call to the parents of the district.

The announcement was not put into email or text form, according to Joseph

That Monday morning, the school also had grief counselors available for the students and staff, Joseph said.

“I hope everyone does [have a plan in place] and I hope that they never have to use it,” Joseph said. “A lot of people avoid that in school districts because it’s not pleasant to talk about but if you’re not planned ahead, when something does happen, it’s so emotional that you can’t think about what you should do next.”

On Sept. 24, Kahlil Pulliam was a passenger in a vehicle driven by a 34-year-old woman. The driver struck another vehicle after failing to keep assured distance. A second boy, also 7 years old, was also in the car at the time of the accident, but survived. Neither of the boys were wearing seat belts, according to a report posted by the Akron Beacon Journal.

“This is very difficult,” Joseph said. “We have very wonderful staff here and in the district, and of course everyone cares about everybody.”

Joseph also personally visited the families affected by this tragedy.

“That personal contact is so important,” Joseph said. “We’re a very close knit school community and we are there for each other and we reach out.”

“They’re very receptive to what a grieving mother needs,” said Stephanie Hager-Nicholson, a parent in the elementary school, said. “They’ve really stepped up and helped immensely.”

“Davey, Bolton, the school’s guidance counselor, Emily Congrove, and the entire PTO have handled so much for the family,” she said.

According the elementary school’s website, the main office has been collecting money for the family in order to help offset the cost of rent, utilities and other bills. In addition to collecting money, the school and the Davey PTO are working together to provide meals to the family this week.

A GoFundMe account has been set up by Hager-Nicholson to help the family take care of funeral costs and other necessities.

Hager-Nicholson lost her son almost three years ago and understands the pain and difficulty of losing a child.

“When I got the phone call on Sunday that this little boy had died, I knew what his mother was going to have to face,” Hager-Nicholson said. “I did not want this mother to worry about how she was going to come up with the funds to pay for her son’s funeral.”

As of Oct. 5, the account has raised $6,340.

Contact Adriona Murphy at [email protected].