ARGYLE (CBSDFW.COM) – Administrators at Liberty Christian School in Argyle are helping students cope with the tragic loss of a classmate. Tita Shaffer was killed along with her mother in a car crash on Saturday night. The school is doing several things on Monday to help students come to terms with the sixth-grader’s death.
Emma and Tita Shaffer were involved in a wrong-way collision along Highway 377, about 30 miles north of Fort Worth. A car traveling southbound crossed into the northbound lanes of traffic and crashed head-on into another vehicle. Four people died in the incident — two female drivers and two children. The Shaffers, ages 41 and 12, were among the dead.
The other victims have been identified as 26-year-old Ashli Morgan and 4-year-old Lorelei Cotter from Roanoke. Morgan’s car was the one that crossed lanes. The cause of the crash is still under investigation. Police explained that neither high speed nor alcohol were factors in this incident. Officials in Denton added that it could be days before there is more information to report in this case.
Emma Shaffer was a long-time volunteer at Liberty Christian School, only about one mile away from the crash scene. Friends described the mother and her daughter as being full of life. Tita has been attending the campus since preschool. Tita’s brother also goes to the school, in fourth grade, however, he was not in class on Monday.
Flowers were placed outside of the school on Monday and flags were lowered, all in remembrance of the sixth-grader and her mother. Many students and teachers wore yellow shirts to a special assembly on Monday morning, where pastors and nearby churches joined counselors to talk with students about grief.
A feeling of disbelief hangs over the school. “It’s pretty sad,” said eighth-grader Barrett Kelton. “No one really expected it. She was just really happy all the time. Sometimes, it was a little bit too much for some people to handle, but it’s just… never would have expected it out of somebody who is so vibrant and full of energy.”
“It’s tragic for having a daughter so young and a mom still so young die so early,” added junior Allison Edson. “I met the mom before and she was very sweet. She would come up to the school and help with her daughter’s classes and things like that. She was a very sweet woman.”
Monday was Senior Skip Day at Liberty Christian School, but many of the seniors arrived anyway to talk with the sixth-grade class. They know what this tragic situation feels like, because back when the current seniors were in sixth grade, they too lost a classmate in a car crash. Several seniors shared that experience with the younger kids who are now left trying to make sense of it all.
“I’m just kind of in shock,” added sixth-grader Kara Fish, who was in Tita Shaffer’s class. “It’s kind of hard to wrap your head around.” Fish has been talking to her older brother about her feelings. Coleman Fish is a senior now, and was part of the older sixth-grade class that also lost a classmate, Ian Key, near the same location along Highway 377.
“This is all too similar. I was in sixth grade. My little sister is in sixth grade now. And when it happened, I can’t even describe it,” said Coleman Fish. “I know that it will affect them for the rest of their lives, because it has affected me.” Students six years ago dedicated a tree and a plaque to Key.
Coleman Fish’s advice for the grieving students. “Think of the happy thoughts that you have with them,” he said. “That’s what helped me and what my class did when this happened to us, and I know that will help them.”