WILEY, Colo. (KRDO) -- Four teens were killed when their SUV was hit by a semi-truck Wednesday night just south of Wiley in Prowers County, according to Colorado State Patrol.
CSP investigators say a Ford Explorer, with five teenagers, was heading east on Prowers County Road 196 The driver of the Explorer ran a stop sign and was hit by a northbound semi-truck on Highway 287.
Three of the teens in the Explorer died at the scene, two were taken to a hospital in Colorado Springs.
CSP didn't identify the victims but said:
- A 16-year-old boy was the driver, he died at the scene
- A 14-year-old girl died at the scene
- A 15-year-old boy died at the scene
- A 16-year-old boy died at the hospital
According to Wiley Mayor Allen Campbell, the 15-year-old boy who survived the initial crash has undergone two brain surgeries after being transported to Colorado Springs.
The occupants of the semi were a 25-year-old man, who has since been released from the hospital since the crash. His passenger, a 50-year-old man, is still in the hospital with serious injuries.
The five teenagers were all from the small town of Wiley and they all attended Wiley Junior-Senior High School, the only school in the town.
The news of their passing has sent shock waves through the entire town of fewer than 600 people.
"They meant just about everything," said Campbell. "When I first heard about it, it does nothing but put a big knot in your stomach and make you nauseated and feel terrible for the whole community."
The Wiley High School is small, just like the town. Campbell said students were just readjusting to school in person after remote learning a year ago, and now they have to face this.
"We just got back to school from last year not being able to go to school and everything," explained Campbell. "You know, it wiped out probably a third of their class."
Twelve miles away in Lamar, the flower shop Thoughts in Bloom says they've received several orders in memory of the students who died. The owner, Mellisa Bohl, explained what a tight-knit community Wiley, and neighboring towns, are.
"Our community is so loving and so giving. They want to be there to help these families."
A parent herself, Bohl said she's sympathetic for the families dealing with this unthinkable loss.
"Life is precious, life is short. Tomorrow is not guaranteed and every single one of us needs to hug our loved ones close," Bohl said.
A prayer vigil was held at the Wiley Football Stadium at 6:00 P.M. Hundreds showed up the honor and remember the teens whose lives were cut short.
The Prowers County Sheriff's office has set up a donation fund for the families called the Wiley Panther Memorial Fund. Anyone can donate by going to a Legacy Bank branch anywhere in Colorado.
The Wiley School District responded to the crash, announcing classes were canceled through the rest of the week, and all weekend activities were also canceled. The district said grief counselors and staff members will be available at the school to students, families, and staff throughout the day.