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One dead, five injured in Hwy. 109 crash; victim identified

A one-vehicle crash Monday night on Highway 109 near its intersection with Mountain View Road killed a nine-year-old boy and injured six other juveniles and the driver. Pike County Elementary School principal Tammy Bell has identified the dead child as Bradley Shinkle, a third grader. An account has been set up at United Bank for donations to help cover medical expenses for the victims siblings, 4-year-old Gracie and 13-year-old Christopher, who were also injured in the wreck. Donations may be made at any United Bank branch, payable to the Shinkle family or Benefit for Bradley Shinkle. Payments can be mailed to United Bank, P.O. Box 945, Zebulon GA 30295. ”He is a single father and is having to miss a lot of work,” the victim’s uncle Jereme Cheney said of the elder Shinkle. “He is still up at Egleston with his two other children.” The accident, which occurred at about 5:45 p.m., involved one vehicle – a Ford Expedition – which was traveling westbound on 109 and ran off the south side of the highway. According to a sheriff”s office press release, the SUV struck several trees and one juvenile was ejected from the vehicle. The investigation is still in preliminary stages but it does not appear alcohol is a contributing factor, according to the release. No names of those involved have yet been released. Several of the other victims were seriously injured and diverted to the nearest hospitals for treatment. The highway was wet from daylong rains. Pike deputy coroner Parrish Swift said the nine-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. Swift said he heard on the scene that a couple of the juveniles were transported to Egleston, one was sent to Grady and one may be at Scottish Rite but he could not verify that information. UPDATE:In the aftermath of the fatal crash, a Pike deputy wrecked a patrol car at the intersection of highways 109 and 19 near Life Springs Church. Sheriff Jimmy Thomas said his deputy was okay. According to Major David Neal at the Sheriff’s Office, an officer was in his cruiser traveling southbound on Hwy 19 when a vehicle failed to yield coming off of Hwy. 109. The deputy was unable to avoid the vehicle. Neal said as far as he knows there were no injuries. The entire letter from Bell to the parents of Shinkle’s classmates is printed below in its entirety. It contains tips for helping children dealing with traumatic loss: December 15, 2009 I am saddened to inform you that one of our third grade students, Bradley Shinkle, died in a car accident Monday, December 14th. We are profoundly saddened by his death. Please remember his family in the days ahead. This may be a difficult time for your children, as it is for all of us. We have shared this information and had discussions with all four students in his classroom so that they know what has happened. We have also had discussions to address their questions and concerns. Counselors, teachers, crisis response team members, and other support personnel have been and will continue to be available to students, teachers, and parents on an ongoing basis. Please call the school (770-567-4444) if you want assistance. As parents you may want to talk to your children, too. The death of a student may affect a child in a variety of ways depending on the age of the child, how well the child knew the student, and the child’s prior experience with grief. When reacting to a death, a child may display behaviors such as the following: ’¢ Clings close to adults ’¢ Displays regressive behaviors ’¢ Appears not to be affected ’¢ Thinks about it privately ’¢ Asks a lot of questions ’¢ Appears frightened ’¢ Appears agitated and angry ’¢ Appears sad and withdrawn ’¢ Displays difficulty sleeping We suggest you listen carefully to your children during this time. If they seem to need to talk, answer their questions simply, honestly, and possibly over and over again. Below are some suggestions that you may find useful. ’¢ Assure fearful children that you will be there to take care of them. Reassure them many times. ’¢ Provide physical closeness. Spend extra time putting your child to bed. Talk and offer reassurance. ’¢ Encourage children to ask questions and to discuss, write, or draw their feelings. ’¢ Be a good listener. Listen carefully for any misconceptions or distortions the student may have regarding what happened. ’¢ Talk with your child and provide simple, accurate information to questions. ’¢ Provide play and fun experiences to relieve tension. ’¢ Help the child develop safety plans and procedures if needed to reduce fear (e.g., “What are the things you should do if… ?). ’¢ Remind them of concrete examples of how they are being protected and cared for by parents, adults, teachers, etc. ’¢ Make sure the child gets rest and exercise.

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