Classmates of 17-year-old Belton High School student Matthew Carr held a candlelight vigil at dusk Nov. 27 to remember the teen who was killed in an early morning accident.
Carr was involved in a single car accident in the 600 block of S. Lacy Lane, two blocks west of Belton High School Tuesday morning. Carr was a student in the Belton School District’s evening vocational program.
The time of reflection was held outside the school, near the flagpole.
Joining Carr’s peers were also family friends, teachers, and his younger brother, Josh Carr.
“Be kind to one another, and watch out for one another,” said Julie Berry, 43, of Belton, during the vigil. “Life is too darn short and nobody should lose their child.”
Berry, who spent the day with the family, encouraged teens to be more cautious with their decisions.
The accident occurred at about 4:30 a.m. as Carr was making his way home from an evening spent with friends. Police said Carr reportedly lost control of his vehicle, a Chevrolet Cavalier, and slammed into a tree. The car was found crushed around a tree in a residential yard.
At the vigil, Karl Vietch, a former neighbor of the Carr family, took a moment to encourage the teens in attendance to be safe when they’re driving.
“Matt really touched my life today,” he said. “I lived across the street from them when all the boys when they were growing up. Just take that moment and listen to your parents because a minute of talk will be a lifetime of love.”
Police are still investigating the cause of the accident, but investigators said it appears speed may have been a factor and that Carr was not wearing a seatbelt.
The Raymore Police Department and the Cass County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the accident scene.
Belton Christian Church Pastor Jim Bottrell took a few minutes during the vigil to encourage those in attendance.
“It’s a time to celebrate life is good and to remember life is fragile,” he said. “Use opportunities to affirm, lift up, and build up, and to praise the gift of life that you have. Be kind to one another, be good to one another. Claim this time to remember the good things about Matt, what he has taught us, and what we have learned about living.”
Belton High School observed a moment of silence following accident and extra counselors were brought in to assist students and staff throughout the day.
“The death of any student at this age is difficult to cope with and should cause us all to pause and reflect on the loss of life,” said Fred Skretta, Belton High School principal, in a written release. “It is important that we honor and dignify the reactions of our students and that we provide the stability, routine, comfort and support of our school home.”