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Students, faculty, administration react to death of classmate

By Vanessa de la Viña, vanessa@kvia.com
Published On: Nov 02 2012 08:34:06 PM CDT
Updated On: Dec 25 2012 05:41:58 PM CST
Keian Padilla

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Keian Padilla, 15, was killed in a car crash on Highway 70 in Las Cruces on Wednesday.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -

Students and faculty at Oñate High School are in mourning after losing a classmate to what police called a "gruesome" car crash.

Las Cruces Police said Keian Padilla, 15, and his mother Marcia Parra, 35, were killed on Wednesday when another car crossed over the median on Highway 70 and hit their car.

The two were on the way to Keian's school when they were hit and killed. The crash happened less than a mile away from the school.

Oñate High School Principal David Day told ABC-7 that students are really pulling together during this difficult time.

"He was an athlete. He was a good student. Never caused problems. His teammates and the school, the atmosphere is sad, very sad," Day said.

Keian was a sophomore at Oñate High and a runner on the cross-country team.

"When one of your kids, and we call them our kids, when something happens tragically to one of our kids. It's just hard. It really is," Day said.

Keian's sister goes to Camino Real Middle School. Students there started a petition to get stronger barriers in the median, something they feel could have saved Keian and his mom.

"The students are feeling a lot of sadness for the loss of one of their friends, their family members. They're trying to figure out why this happened. With kids and adults, you never think you're going to say goodbye or hello for the last time," Day said.

Officials from the New Mexico Department of Transportation told ABC-7 they've been working to get barriers installed for months.

"Typically a project takes between 12 and 18 months for development. We did it in about seven months, understanding the need to get some sort of device out there to mitigate some of these issues," NMDOT engineer Trent Doolittle said.

NMDOT officials said the barriers should be built next year.

Day said the reaction in the community has been amazing.

"Students, administration, teachers have been giving money to help Keian's family out. It's just been remarkable. We raised just yesterday in half a day over $1000," Day said.

If you'd like to donate and help Keian's family, an account has been set up at First Light Federal Credit Union under the Keian and Marcy Fund. Donations will be accepted at Las Cruces and El Paso branches.

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