Grief counselors offer help at Woodland High after student dies in weekend crash

By Paul Suarez, Columbian freelance

Published:

Updated: November 26, 2012, 8:56 PM

 

Grief counselors were on hand at Woodland High School on Monday after a 17-year-old student died in a car crash over the weekend.

The girl, Samantha Effingham, was a senior at the school and a Running Start student, said John Shoup, principal.

Students and staff have a variety of options at school for private and public grieving, Shoup said. People can write messages to Effingham and her family on a public bulletin board, write chalk messages on the sidewalk in front of the school or visit a "safe room" to talk with counselors, he said.

"It's OK to be hurting and not know all the answers," he said.

Effingham died in a two-car collision Friday afternoon on state Highway 502 west of Battle Ground, according to the Washington State Patrol. She was in a car with Ryan L. Matison, 20, of Battle Ground. Matison was driving south on Northeast 29th Avenue just before 3 p.m. when he failed to stop at a flashing stop light and turned onto Highway 502, a WSP bulletin said. The sedan collided with a pickup driven by Luke W. Merriman, 23, of Battle Ground, that was traveling east on 502 approaching 29th Avenue, WSP said.

Both cars went off the road, said WSP spokesman Trooper Will Finn. Effingham died at the scene.

Matison and Merriman were both transported to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center after the crash. Both were released from the hospital, Finn said.

Speed was the cause of the collision, Finn said. Possible charges are still under investigation. Drugs and alcohol did not appear to be factors in the crash, the patrol said.