by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
Zaccary West, 10, was only at Posen Elementary School a short time. He joined Courtney Gagnon’s combined fifth-sixth-grade class at the start of the school year.
The fifth-grader, like many boys his age, came to the district with a lot of energy and a smile that will be missed in the hallways of the school.
Zaccary’s life was cut short Friday Jan. 9, in a tragic two-vehicle crash along 638 Highway in Bismarck Township.
It left a Hawks family grieving, a life taken too soon. His school family in Posen had grief counselors in attendance Monday. “They were utilized throughout the day,” said superintendent John Palmer. “Some students went with groups.”
Students and staff were left with fond memories of the young man.
“What impressed me about this child is that he was very positive,” said Denise Beland, his math teacher. “He befriended all the kids and never said a mean thing, from what I saw, about any of them.”
“He was this amazing little boy, that no matter what was handed out to him, he found good in it. Even the kids that have trouble making friends, he was buddies with those kids.”
“He was a good kid,” said classmate Kyle Kreft. “He had fun and liked to joke around.”
“He was not a problem boy at all,” said Palmer. “He is going to be missed greatly.”
Zaccary rode on Jamie Szymanski’s bus. Szymanski said there were “white out conditions” near the young man’s stop in the Hawks area. “I was on Quinn Creek road and had to pull over. We probably had to stop six or seven times to clear the wipers, it was so bad. You could not see 20 yards in front of you.”
Szymanski said they were running about 20 minutes behind schedule. Zaccary was dropped off between 4:15 and 4:25 p.m. “They must have got right in the car and drove right back into it, that’s where we had come from,” said Szymanski.
The accident happened at 4:54 p.m. There were multiple 9-1-1 calls reporting the crash.
The initial call reported a child who was unresponsive and not breathing. CPR was attempted. There were multiple victims reported, including three in one vehicle and four in the other vehicle.
The investigation indicates the vehicles were traveling in opposite directions. According to a Presque Isle County Sheriff’s Department press release, the westbound vehicle driven by Susan Herndon, 56, lost control and crossed into the eastbound lane. In Herndon’s vehicle were Zaccary’s father Joe West, 47, and Zaccary.
The eastbound vehicle was driven by Anthony Trapp, 72. He had three passengers: Wilma Trapp, 65; Emily Campa, 75; and Ronald Campa, 76. All the occupants of the Trapp vehicle were treated by ambulance personnel for minor injuries at the scene.
Adverse weather, including slippery roads and poor visibility are believed to be contributing factors in the crash, the press release stated.
Zaccary was pronounced dead at Alpena Regional Medical Center. His father was treated for minor injuries, while Herndon was transferred to Saginaw
Visitation at the Beck Funeral Home in Rogers City is Saturday at 1 p.m. until the time of his memorial service at 2 p.m.