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Student, parents among four who died in highway crash, school officials say

An Ontario Provincial Police logo is shown during a press conference, in Barrie, Ont., on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. A high school student and his parents were among four people who died in a crash northeast of Toronto earlier this week, school officials say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A high school student and his parents were among four people killed in a crash northeast of Toronto earlier this week, school officials say.

Deb Callahan, the principal at Thomas A Stewart Secondary School in Peterborough, Ont., said in a letter Wednesdaythat the school community was saddened by the death of a student and his parents, one of whom was a school employee.

"We have learned that an entire family.....has been deeply impacted by this terrible accident," she said.

Provincial police have said the crash between a pickup truck and an SUV took place at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday on Highway 7 near Drummond Line.

They've identified three SUV occupants who died as 18-year-old Riddick Hart, 46-year-old Jonathan MacDonnell, and 52-year-old Stephanie Hart, while the pickup driver who died has been identified as 42-year-old Jason Schmidt.

Callahan said another member of the family was also a student at the school and was airlifted to a hospital after the crash. Police said one victim sustained life-threatening injuries and was taken to a Toronto-area hospital.

"Our school community is shocked and grieving as we struggle to process this difficult news, and we understand that this will have an immediate and significant impact on our students, staff and families," Callahan said.

Rita Russo, the director of education at the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, said those impacted in the community are encouraged to seek support.

"We have sought the support of the mental health clinicians at our school board, for both students and staff at TAS (Thomas A Stewart Secondary School) and other impacted schools," she said in a separate letter to families.

"If you feel your child is in need of professional support, please contact your school," she said.

Russon said the flags at Thomas A Stewart Secondary School and other schools in the area had been lowered to half-mast as the community mourns the tragedy.

"We offer our deepest condolences to family, friends and the entire TAS community," she said. "Our thoughts are also focused on the family member, our student, currently being treated in hospital, as we all hope for a positive outcome."

The crash remains under investigation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2022.

Sharif Hassan, The Canadian Press

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