A deadly accident in McClain County has left the Jenks community devastated. Friends of the victims are rallying around their families.
Jenks Mom Erin Van Horn was driving six kids back from Turner Falls when their SUV crashed into the back of a semi truck near Purcell. Van Horn, 40, was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Her 10-year-old son, Zach, and 11-year-old Beck Kitterman died at the scene.
Jamie Harrell has been neighbors with the Van Horns for years.
"Everybody loved Erin and Zach," Jamie Harrell said. She said when she heard the news of the deadly car crash on Monday, she was in shock.
"Just complete denial," she said. "Just no. No, it didn't happen. This is by far one of the worst tragedies that I've ever experienced personally."
Harrell said now, the entire neighborhood and community are rallying around not just the Van Horns but the Kitterman-Edwards family as well.
"Jenks is that kind of a community. We pull together, and when one of us falls, we all fall," said Jamie Harrell, neighbor of the crash victims.
"We will stand tall. We'll be strong, and we'll be there for each other, because that's what you do."
Rumors circulated that 13-year-old Lizzie Edwards had been taken off life support because she had no brain activity. However, we've confirmed she is still on life support and waiting for a brain scan.
Two other 13-year-old girls are in critical condition, and a 7-year-old girl fortunately had no major injuries.
The driver of the semi truck was not hurt. It's not clear why the SUV slammed into the back of the truck.
In the wake of the tragedy, Harrell wants everyone to know just how loved her neighbors truly were.
"We're going to miss her so, so much," she said. "And Zach was a wonderful kiddo. Was so much fun and brought so much life to the neighbors and to the neighborhood."
The crash shut down northbound I-35 for nearly three hours. The Highway Patrol said its investigation into exactly what happened is still ongoing.
Jenks Public Schools issued the following statement:
We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Jenks’ parent Erin Van Horn and two Jenks Public Schools’ students. Our most heartfelt condolences are extended to all families affected by this tragic accident, and our thoughts are with those students who are recovering both mentally and physically from their injuries. We wish them all a quick and complete recovery, and we urge everyone to respect the privacy of the families during this difficult time. Because law enforcement officials have not released the names of the students, and out of respect to the families, Jenks Public Schools will not be referencing or discussing the names of those students involved.