Grief counselors were made available Wednesday at Caledonia-Mumford High School following a crash Tuesday that killed two graduates and injured three others.
Deputies say Taylor Binnert, 21, and Chris Peterson, 20, were killed in the crash. Investigators say Binnert was driving and Peterson was the front seat passenger in a Jeep that pulled in to the path of an oncoming tractor trailer just before noon Tuesday in Wheatland.
Emily Peterson and Michela Murphy, both 17, and Joanne Krutchen, 20, were all thrown from the SUV. They all remain hospitalized at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.
Deputies say the hills on Riga-Mumford Road may have hidden the tractor trailer from Binnert. While there are stop signs on North Road, which runs east and west, the tractor trailer heading south on Riga-Mumford did not have to stop.
"I don't know what to say. I'm lost for words."
Michael Murphy came here looking for his daughter's purse, and cell phone.
"I don't know. It's not fair."
He also came looking for answers. Just after lunch Tuesday, Murphy got a phone call: Go to the hospital. Now.
"At that time, all you do is hope that you're the lucky one. That your child is still alive."
Michael's daughter Michaela was inside the Jeep Wrangler which pulled into the path of a tractor trailer. She was ejected, suffering a badly broken leg, broken arm, broken hip and internal injuries.
She and two others were hurt. Driver Taylor Binnert and passenger Christopher Peterson died in the crash.
The five friends all attended Caledonia-Mumford High School. Grief counselors were there.
"They're all good kids," said Michelle Carson.
Friends and family placed flowers at the crash site. Others stopped to reflect.
"I have never felt grief like this."
Michelle Carson was Taylor's cheerleading coach for five years.
"You spend so much time with them, every single day. They become your family."
Through tears, and through joy.
"She was a wonderful girl, beautiful inside and out. She had a wonderful way about her. Always had a smile on her face."
For people who live around here, the intersection of North Road and Riga-Mumford Road is a notorious one.
"I think it's just, we need to be more aware of this intersection. My husband lost a classmate here when he was in high school," Carson said.
"I think if people want to do something, try and get a traffic light here. Go back to the DOT reports and find out how many people have died here. Is this enough? Or no?" asked Murphy.
We asked state transportation for data involving all prior crashes at this intersection. In 2010, DOT made improvements to the intersection, including signs alerting drivers of a stop ahead.
Five crashes happened here in the three years leading up to the changes. None since. Until Tuesday.
"What's it take? I don't know. Somebody's got to have the answer," Murphy said.
Answers are often hard to come by in times of tragedy. Sometimes, all a community can do is pull together.
"We're a very close community. We take care of our own out here. We will bounce back one way or another but they will never be forgotten," said Carson.
Statement from Fire Department
As in many small communities, emergency responders to the scene of a crash like the one in Wheatland often know the people they're trying to rescue.
The Mumford Fire Department said Wednesday it has made arrangements to offer help for first responders.
The department added: "As we live and work in the same small community, many of our first responders know the victims and their families, and have been deeply affected by this incident. We join our neighbors in mourning this tragic loss, and hope for the speedy recovery of the other victims involved."