Pieces of the vehicle in Thursday afternoon’s fatal crash surround the pole that was hit. By Friday, a memorial began at the site. See WKMNews.com for more.
Pieces of the vehicle in Thursday afternoon’s fatal crash surround the pole that was hit. By Friday, a memorial began at the site. See WKMNews.com for more.
Friday was a day for Southwestern High School to cope with grief as the community learned more about a police chase Thursday afternoon that took the lives of Southwestern senior Tyler Cooley, 18, and Madison resident Brooklyn James, 19, and seriously injured former Southwestern student, Blake Coombs, 18, of Madison.

Superintendent Jeff Bates said the Friday night homecoming game was rescheduled for Saturday, Feb. 15. He said he met with teachers and staff from the middle and high schools Friday morning to break the news and discuss how to talk with their first-period students.

Things are “pretty somber” around the campus, he said.

Bob Pimlott worked as director of clinical services for Madison Consolidated Schools from 1985 to 2002. He helped the schools through the deaths of eight to 10 students and a couple of teachers over the years.

“Probably the biggest thing you can do is just listen to them. And let them share their grief, let them share their feelings,” Pimlott said. “The biggest thing is, there is no way to answer ‘why did it happen?’”

Pimlott noted grief takes a long time to process.

“I think one of the things we have an advantage in in this community is an incredibly supportive community with crises. And, so I encourage kids not to isolate themselves and to try and be with friends and family as much as they can.”

He said it is important for families to get their children professional help when they need it, even if they at first refuse. He also said spending time with friends and trying to get back into a routine were key for youth trying to move on from a loss.

Mental health providers in the community, as well as teachers and staff, are experiencing a loss too, he noted.

“At the time, you just absolutely have to be strong and bring a strong, caring presence for (the students), and then you can crash after,” he said, speaking from his own experience.

Indiana State Police released on Friday some details about the accident that involved a blue Toyota Corolla driven by Coombs, which slammed into two utility poles at S.R. 256 and Thompson Road.

“The Madison Police Department and the City of Madison take police pursuits very seriously. We mourn the lives lost yesterday and ask that the community come together to pray for the individuals and families affected,” the City of Madison posted Friday afternoon on its website.

Coombs, who also goes by the last name Eisenhower, attended Southwestern in elementary and early middle school, Bates said. Bates said James had not attended Southwestern.

Southwestern assembled a team of eight counselors, some from Centerstone and Madison Junior High, to talk with students Friday morning. Bates said both Scott County District 1 and 2 have offered to send theirs, but the team of eight is handling things well.

“We’ve had quite a few kids take advantage and talk to counselors, and they’ve been fairly busy, but we’re in good shape,” Bates said.

“Being a small, pretty close-knit school corporation, it’s hitting pretty hard.”