The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

February 4, 2013

Avilla students cope with loss of classmate

AVILLA, Mo. — Students and teachers at Avilla School pulled together Monday, their first day back after learning of the death of Landry F. Heese, 7.

Landry, a second-grader, was killed in a traffic accident Saturday morning. Her sister, Avery, 10, a fifth-grader, was injured in the accident.

“Landry was bright and enthusiastic,” said Scott Blake, superintendent of the Avilla School District and the school principal. “She had a wonderful personality, and her family is well-known and respected here. She already is greatly missed.”

The two girls and their father were passengers in a vehicle that went out of control on ice-covered Interstate 49, went down an embankment and overturned, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The accident happened at 7:07 a.m. three miles south of Nevada in Vernon County.

Also injured were Andrew M. Heese, 39; Daniel D. Castor, 33, of Carthage, the driver; and Kip A. Castor, 7.

Avery Heese was taken to Freeman Hospital West in Joplin with moderate injuries. Her father was taken to the same hospital with serious injuries. Kip Castor, a second-grader at Pleasant Valley Elementary School in Carthage, suffered minor injuries and was treated at Nevada Regional Medical Center. Daniel Castor suffered serious injuries and was taken to Freeman Hospital West.

Blake said additional counselors were brought in Monday to help Avilla students deal with their grief.

“We’re trying to hold it in together and to keep a structured atmosphere for our students,” he said. “We are trying to give our a students a way to let out their grief in a way that helps them deal with it.”

Blake said the school has not planned a memorial service for the girl.

“Right now we are trying to be respectful of the family during this difficult time and to deal with their sorrows,” he said.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

Avilla enrollment

THE AVILLA SCHOOL DISTRICT in eastern Jasper County has 176 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

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