Family confirms Harrisburg teen died in Jonesboro crash

Family confirms Harrisburg teen died in Jonesboro crash
Kayna Brooke Gardner died when a car collided with the Jeep she was driving. (Davis, Patricia)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The family of Kayna Brooke Gardner tell Region News the 18-year-old Harrisburg High School senior died in Sunday’s crash.

Kayna Gardner in happier times.
Kayna Gardner in happier times. (Tommye McNamara)

The crash happened at 12:20 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, near the intersection of Highland Drive and Browns Lane, according to a Tuesday news release from the Jonesboro Police Department.

A 2008 Pontiac G6 was westbound on Highland when it turned south onto Browns Lane. As the car was turning, it changed lanes and entered the turn lane where it struck an eastbound 2014 Jeep Wrangler.

The driver and a passenger of the Pontiac were both hurt in the collision. They were taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Gardner, who was driving the Jeep, was “partially ejected and received fatal injuries,” said Sgt. Lyle Waterworth. Three other people in the Jeep were also taken to the hospital with unspecified injuries.

Waterworth said the crash is still under investigation.

A senior at Harrisburg High School, Kayna Gardner was a star player on the school's volleyball team.
A senior at Harrisburg High School, Kayna Gardner was a star player on the school's volleyball team. (Tommye McNamara)

Meanwhile, the school is making arrangements to honor Gardner’s death and help students cope with her passing.

Superintendent Craig Brandon released the following statement regarding Gardner’s death, and how faculty and staff are helping students cope with the loss:

On Sunday, we met as a faculty at 2:00 to cover plans and procedures for today. We have a strong school-based mental health program that allows us to meet the emotional needs of our students. Methodist Family Health is the agency with which we partner, and they were present for our meeting. School counselors from other buildings in our district were also present to provide guidance and to answer questions.

I communicated with the other building principals about the situation. I wanted them to be prepared to meet the needs of any students in their buildings that may be related to or close friends with the students involved in the accident.

We checked our attendance first thing this morning and made phone calls to the parents of absent students.

For any and all students who were struggling with this difficult situation, we did our best to provide a safe and comfortable environment as they began processing their grief.

Here at the high school, every one of our students has an advisor/mentor. This teacher is an advocate for them academically as well as emotionally. The students had the opportunity to meet with their advisors or any adult on our campus with whom they have a positive rapport.

Our faculty did a fantastic job adjusting to the day and meeting the needs of our students. I can't say enough about how our faculty stepped up to handle this very difficult situation, and we will continue to provide support in the days to come.

In addition to the efforts at the school, our community has extended their full support to the families involved, to our students, and to our faculty as we continue the grieving process and eventually the healing process.

According to her obituary, a memorial service and celebration of life will be held Saturday, Nov. 3, at 4 p.m. in the Harrisburg High School Fine Arts Building. Gregg-Weston Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

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