UPDATE: Monday, October 14, 2013
Police have identified the 17-year-old high school student killed Sunday night in a crash east of Derby.
They say he is Clayton R. Akers-Matzen of Wichita. Matzen was a senior at Derby High School and a member of the varsity soccer team.
"Great kid, very supportive family. He was slated to graduate in May. He had a bright future," Derby High School Principal Tim Hamblin said.
The crash happened around 7:30 p.m. Sunday at 95th Street South and Greenwich. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office said a red Dodge was traveling northbound on Greenwich approaching the intersection of 95th. The driver later told deputies that he became distracted and ran the stop sign, and collided with a Chrysler Sebring.
The driver of the Chrysler, 27-year-old Tyler J. Frakes of Douglass suffered minor injuries.
The driver of the Dodge, 18-year-old Jeshua J. Pence of Derby, was taken to a Wichita hospital with possible serious injures.
Matzen, who was a passenger in the Dodge, died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
Matzen's teammates met with administrators Monday afternoon and decided to postpone a game scheduled for Monday night at home against Andover.
Many students were still in shock Monday morning as they returned to school for the first time since learning of Matzen's death.
"It's been tough," said Sadie Harper, who was friends with Matzen. "A lot of it is, we don't want to believe it."
Students say many of their classmates wore a shirt with a soccer ball or the color blue, Matzen's favorite color, in remembrance.
"Today, coming to school and just seeing how upset everybody was, that was probably the toughest part for me," said Matzen's friend Brittanie Smith.
Matzen's friends remembered him as having a magnetic personality that allowed him to make friends easily.
"Clayton was a great guy. He was hilarious. His sense of humor was great. He would lighten up a room," Harper said.
His friends say he had a knack for bringing people together. Smith says just a couple of months ago, he single-handedly brought eight people (including her) together, making them fast friends.
"There's a part of me that knows he knew we would need each other" Smith said.
Students leaned on each other Monday for support. There were also counselors available.
With so many students having dealt with tragedies over the past few years at Derby High School, they say they knew what each other needed.
"Every time we've banded together and that's what we're always going to do," said Austin Tedrow, one of Matzen's friends.
Hamblin says he estimates that in his three years as principal, the school has lost 10 current or recently graduated students.
"The loss of any student is tragic," Hamblin said. "You realize how valuable life is and you just try to stress to the kids, 'Please, be safe.'"
As they continue to grieve for Clayton Matzen, they say they plan to make and sell t-shirts and bracelets. They say they want to do anything they can to celebrate Matzen's life which is exactly what they believe he would have wanted.
"If Clayton could speak to us one last time, I think he would want us to remember all the good times with him and remember how happy we were when he was here," Smith said.