The families of two American teenagers are in mourning after they were killed in a tragic car accident before their high school prom over the weekend.
The pair were on their way to the home of Kalen’s mother, Jody Conaway, when they collided with an SUV at about 5:15pm.
Both were pronounced dead at the scene, while two other teenage passengers were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The driver of the SUV declined medical treatment at the scene.
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crash. Authorities do not belief drugs or alcohol were a factor.
Lendon’s aunt, hairstylist Lisa Lucheon, did Kalen’s hair before saying goodbye to the pair. Later, she would tell local media her nephew was “head over heels” for his girlfriend.
“It’s really strange to say. It’s the happiest I’ve ever seen him,” she told more than 100 mourners gathered at Cathedral High School for a memorial service yesterday.
Lendon was in Year 11 at the school, while Kalen was in Year 12 at nearby Hamilton Heights High School. They were going to attend the Hamilton Heights prom.
The crowd also heard from several of Lendon’s teachers, including debate coach Jeanne Malone, who said he had a “brilliant, quick mind”, according to The Indy Star.
Meanwhile Kalen’s sister, Bailey Burnworth, said she was an “amazing” young woman.
“She was a great person. She just loved everything. Happy spirit. She would never be said,” she said.
Earlier, both schools issued statements about their pupils’ deaths.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our own, senior Kalen Hart, and her prom date Lendon Byram, due to injuries sustained in a traffic accident,” said Hamilton Heights High.
“This is an unimaginable loss for these families and our school community. Our focus right now, as a district, is to provide support to students, staff members and families during the difficult days and weeks ahead.”
“We ask that you please pray for Lendon’s family, friends, and all who knew and loved him,” said Cathedral High, adding that his death had caused “great sadness”.
Each school is now offering counselling services to its students.
Kalen’s family has set up a Facebook page asking for donations to help pay for her funeral and burial expenses.
“My 18-year-old daughter, along with her boyfriend, were killed in an automobile accident on her way to prom,” said her mother, Ms Conaway.
“Anything you can give is greatly appreciated. No parent should ever have to bury their child.”
In a separate message on her personal profile, Ms Conaway said she “didn’t even get to see my baby girl in her prom dress”.
“I love you so much, Kalen. I am so proud of the young woman you were becoming.”
At the time of writing, people had donated $US21,800, exceeding the initial target of $15,000.
In a follow-up post, Kalen’s father Robert Conaway thanked those who had given money.
“I’m beyond speechless with the outpouring of love and support from everyone for our family in this time of tragedy,” he said.
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