Lodi Unified School District on Wednesday began offering counseling services to students at two schools affected by the crash that claimed six lives.
Cathy Washer, LUSD Superintendent, confirmed that two of the children who died in the crash at the Ham Lane and Vine Street intersection were siblings, as well as students at Lodi Middle and Heritage Primary Elementary schools.
“First thing this morning our crisis team went to Lodi Middle School to speak with our students,” she said. “They will head to Heritage later in the day.”
Washer said the crisis team was going to talk to students as a group on how to cope with tragedy and loss. Students were also offered individual counseling on site after a group discussion, she said.
Lodi Middle School, located at 945 S. Ham Lane, is located on the southwest corner of the Ham Lane and Vine Street intersection.
The victims were identified as 30-year-old Luis Miranda, 31-year-old Vivian Rodriguez, 11-year-old Irving Miranda, 5-year-old Jose Miranda and 4-year-old Stephanie Miranda. A 9-year-old boy was the lone survivor of the crash and was being treated at a local hospital.
Scott McGregor, Lodi Middle School principal, said he received a call from Lodi Police Department at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night. McGregor called two of his vice principals, and when school began Wednesday morning, the three of them sent emails to their staff.
He said the district’s crisis team included two extra psychologists, who helped Lodi Middle School’s own school psychologist and counseling staff.
The school’s lead counselor met with each class personally to explain the tragedy and the services available to cope with the loss.
The district’s crisis team was in the school’s library to meet with students who needed more counseling, or those who knew Irving Miranda.
McGregor said it was a difficult day for staff, teachers, and students alike, describing Miranda as a fun-loving, dynamic and successful student.
He added Miranda had been at the after-school Bridge Program offered by the district, which provides free after school education, homework assistance and enrichment opportunities, according to Lodi Middle School’s website.
“Watching the staff and students here pull together was just beautiful,” McGregor said. “It was wonderful to see the closeness and companionship our students and staff were showing for a young man who lost his life.”
The staff at Heritage Primary would not comment, directing questions to the district office.
At about 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, middle school neighbors and the victims’ relatives were at the southeast corner of Ham Lane and Vine Street to place flowers at a makeshift memorial.
Wiping away tears, Yuli Ocampo, Luis Mendoza’s 15-year-old niece, said she and her siblings had only learned about the accident and their relatives’ deaths when they arrived home from school Wednesday afternoon.
Ocampo said the family is angry at the entire situation.
“The family is mad,” she said. “They don’t think it’s fair. It’s not fair that the man who caused the accident is being treated at a hospital, while my cousins and aunt and uncle are dead.”