Please pray for the families of these two women. Michelle is my husbands cousin.
Death of 'dearly-loved' educators overwhelms staff, students, board
Jan 14, 2009 - 10:08 AM
By Jeanne Beneteau
NORTHUMBERLAND - The local school community is overcome with grief at the tragic loss of two beloved teachers, in an car accident Tuesday night.
Kawartha Pine Ridge (KPR) District School Board communication spokeswoman Judy Malfara said everyone — the board, teachers, staff, students and parents — are overwhelmed with grief after “two wonderful people”, Michelle Broomfield, a Grade 2/3 teacher at Baltimore Public School, and Suzanne Kernaghan, a Grade 2 teacher at Cobourg’s Terry Fox Public School, were killed in a car accident between County Rd. 21 and the 5th Line of Cavan Township, around 6:20 p.m. on Jan. 13.
Ms. Broomfield, 38, lives in Hamilton Township, while Ms. Kernaghan, 39, lives in Alnwick/Haldimand Township.
Ms. Malfara said grief counsellors are in both schools today, helping staff and students cope with the tragic loss. In addition the board will send home letters to all parents in both school communities, advising them of the situation.
“These were dearly-loved teachers, long-standing members of their school communities,” said Ms. Malfara, early Wednesday morning. “Suzanne had been at Terry Fox for some 15 years, since the school opened, and Michelle had been at Baltimore for at least six years. For both schools, this loss is new and raw and right now, the focus will be helping one another to cope with their grief.”
She added flags throughout the KPR board are flying at half-mast in light of the tragedy.
Grief counsellors will remain at both schools at long as needed, as both staff and students to come to grips with the loss of the teachers.
“Each school will have at least one quiet spot set aside for people to talk to counsellors,” she said. “Everyone grieves in different ways and the counsellors are there to let people know it’s OK to grieve.”
Devastated by the news of the teachers’ deaths, Baltimore Public School Principal Cheryl Langdon maintained composure in the face of overwhelming grief.
Ms. Langdon hired Ms. Broomfield 12 years ago, when she was principal of Castleton Public School, and said she’d had a special place in her heart for the teacher and had taken an interest in her career.
“As an individual, this is a deep personal loss,” she said Wednesday morning, after speaking with teachers about how they would handle breaking the news to students, as well as informing them about the grief counselling resources available to both teachers and students.
“It’s a very sad day, and our hearts go out to the families.”
Ms. Langdon said she was not able to give a longer interview at this time.
Both teachers had young families — Ms. Broomfield has three children, two of whom attend Baltimore Public School, and Ms. Kernaghan has two young children who attend Terry Fox.
Ms. Malfara said the board extends its sympathies and support to the families and loved ones as they deal with this horrendous event. Because the accident is still new and raw, neither school community has had the chance to plan any special memorials to honour the lives of the two teachers, she added.
Dave Wing, the Kawartha Pine Ridge president of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO), said the word ‘tragedy’ doesn’t begin to describe the loss of two beloved teachers who also have young children of their own. Mr. Wing said he received the call from a colleague about 10:35 p.m. Tuesday night.
“It’s still surreal,” he said. “You never think that two colleagues would be taken from you like that.”
OPP said the women were in a car involved in a collision with a tractor trailer between County Rd. 21 and the 5th Line of Cavan Township at 6:20 p.m.
Constable Iain McEwan, of the Peterborough County OPP, said the investigation so far indicates a green 2006 Honda Accord driven by Ms. Kernaghan went out of control on snow-covered and icy roads and slid sideways into the path of a fully-loaded tractor trailer.
The car was struck on the passenger’s side and both women in the vehicle were pronounced dead at the scene. The 26-year-old driver of the tractor trailer, a Quebec man, was unhurt, but transported to hospital for observation.
The two teachers were returning home from an ETFO seminar when the accident occurred, Mr. Wing said.
Accident investigators were on the scene overnight and the road was re-opened shortly after 9 a.m.
The investigation is continuing, Peterborough County OPP said.
- with files from Ian Caldwell
- ▼ 2009 (7)