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For week ended January 23, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

Popular LDS Students Die in Lunchtime Crash
Salt Lake Tribune 22Jan00 D2
By Heather May: Salt Lake Tribune

SANDY, UTAH -- Alta High School students, sixteen-year-old Josh Carlson and seventeen-year-old Crystal Cazier were killed less than a mile from campus during lunch Thursday in a three-vehicle accident that injured five others. The deaths of the two popular band students, devastated fellow friends and classmates. Outside the brick school, the flag flew at half-staff with a handful of artificial roses and tulips scattered on the concrete, bearing handwritten messages of love and loss.

Principal Linda Sandstrom advised the students and faculty, "The best thing we can do now is pull together and support and comfort each other." "Our responsibility is not to make judgments, not to embellish the facts. The best way we can function is to be supportive and helpful," she said.

Carlson and Cazier died on their way to lunch with classmates Ben Decker and Jen Nielsen. The two-seat pickup truck, driven by Decker, jumped a median, rolling and hitting another car before crashing into a brick wall near 10750 South on 1300 East in Sandy. Decker was taken to LDS Hospital with several injuries and upgraded to a satisfactory condition. Nielsen was treated at the scene. Police have not determined the cause of the accident, but believe the truck was traveling 60 mph in a 45 mph zone. It was unclear if anyone wore seatbelts.

In an effort to assist the students with their grief, counselors from the Jordan School District, along with Alta's school psychologist assisted throughout the day. "This is where students learn to deal with grief," said Sandstrom. "It's not from having a lesson on grief."

Carlson and Cazier had been dating for a short time. Carlson played the baritone and Cazier the bass clarinet. Cazier was an accomplished debater, while Carlson was remembered for helping others. Both students were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and were active in the LDS Church's seminary program.

"In an age when chivalry is definitely at a low point, he was a guy who would help open doors and pull out chairs," said classmate Elysa Bowen, 18. She and other friends created a memorial with flowers and cards lining the brick wall where the truck left a gaping hole. A wreath for Cazier and Carlson read, "We'll always love you. You've got a place in our hearts."

Murline Steck, the school psychologist, noted the students level of emotion represented a caring and loving student body. "We have a great student body; very caring." "The price of caring is that you hurt when there is separation." Later, when hearing fellow band students laugh, Steck said, "Listen to that. They need to cry and they also need to share the funny things," she paused, "and cry some more. That's a very good process."


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