Principal at school where students died in car crash speaks
A deadly Tallahassee crash that occurred more than a week ago on Tennessee and Monroe left two people seriously injured and three people dead, including two elementary school boys. As Sascha Cordner reports, their principal is weighing in on the tragedy.
Spring Break is now officially over for the children at Ruediger Elementary, and as students walk the halls of the school, there will be two kids permanently missing from its 4th grade roster:
Nine-year-old Vincent Vickers and 10-year-old Tyler Biggins. Melissa Fullmore is the Principal of Ruediger Elementary.
“It was devastating, overwhelming, it’s something that you can never be prepared for. It’s not something they teach you in school.”
She’s recounting what she first thought when she heard the news that two of her students at her school were killed in a car wreck on Saint Patrick’s Day.
Both kids had just started the weekend of their Spring Break, when authorities say 20-year-old Christoph Generoso rear-ended the car the boys were in. Police say Generoso may have run a red light.
Vincent died at the scene along with his mother 32-year-old Shakeila Vickers. Tyler made it to Tallahassee Memorial, before he succumbed to his injuries. Only Vincent’s dad survived from that vehicle.
Fullmore says it’s shocking to know that both Tyler and Vincent won’t be returning to Ruediger.
“Truly is like losing your own child when you’re with someone 180 days a year, all day long and had these boys for four years. It’s not something you’re prepared for, but I’ve been really blessed with the outpouring of support from the different families, the PTO, my teachers.”
Fullmore says she remembers the boys as the kind of students that every teacher wants in the classroom. She adds while their personalities differed, Vincent and Tyler were best friends as well as brothers, and liked to participate in school activities.
“Vincent was the quieter one of the two, but you never really saw one without the other, they’ve been in the same class since 2nd grade. Tyler was the more outgoing one. He was the lead of our safety patrols, so he usually spoke for both of them at times. Vincent stood out, though, doing things like dancing, things that didn’t cause him to have to talk. So, he would dance and step, and we would have our big after school programs. Both students were a part of our after school program as well. So, they were just good boys that were involved in everything.”
Fullmore says therapists, social workers, and counselors are already at the school and have been helping teachers through the grieving process, and will be on hand to help with the students as well.
Vincent’s dad, Vince Vickers, was one of the people seriously injured in the four-car wreck. He’s currently at Tallahassee Memorial in fair condition. Fullmore says she and other teachers and parents have visited him in the hospital, and he’s been grateful for the support. She says parents and students have also put up a memorial at the site of the incident, which can be seen on Tennessee and Monroe.