|Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office/Courtesy photo|
Emergency responders investigate the scene of a crash on Outer Loop Road between Reed and Williamson Valley roads Wednesday morning. Julianna Hersh, 23, Jeremiah Hersh, 13, and Jess Hersh, 9, of Chino Valley were killed in the crash.
|Blog post memorializes those killed in collision|
|While the family has yet to publicly comment in the wake of the crash that took three young lives, the victims' uncle, Shules Hersh, took to the Internet Wednesday night to post a tribute to them.|
Writing in his blog titled "Goshen Living," Shules said, "A few hours ago, my brother Israel called me on the phone. He said, 'God took half my children from me today.'"
Of Julianna, Shules said on his website, "I often wondered whether Jules would be a schoolteacher or a worship leader. For a while it seemed she might be both."
Shules said Jeremiah had "the purest heart I have known," and noted his nephew, who died in a Phoenix hospital, "must have been a battle-axe. He held on for hours."
Jessa, Shules said, was "the apple of her daddy's eye."
Shules said the family's surviving three children, including Joseph, 15, who was also in the car at the time of he crash, "are left to pick up the pieces with Mom and Dad."
Special to the Review
Prescott - When three young members of one family were killed and a fourth was injured in a head-on car crash south of Chino Valley Wednesday, the tragedy struck the faculty, staff, and students at Mountain Oak School in Prescott especially hard, because all were part of the school's community, officials said.
"We've been watching them grow up," Anna Carnegie-Marx, school board president. "It's a pretty close-knit group here."
Julianna Hersh, 23, was on staff at Mountain Oak; she was the kindergarten assistant.
"She was an incredible musician and songwriter," Carnegie-Marx said. "She just brought joy and life to her room."
Julianna was "brilliant" with her young charges, she said. "She had a heart for knowing what they were needing and how to teach them."
Julianna was a performer who played guitar and sang outside the school, participating in the open mic nights at Chino Valley's Overflow Coffee, where she was very popular.
Jeremiah, 13, also had musical talent, School Director ElizaBeth Wildemaan said. He played the recorder and she called him "a very sweet child that all the kids liked."
He recently expanded his skills to drumming, Carnegie-Marx said. "He was so excited to play" in an African drumming class. "He had a lot of natural talent."
His drum was found among the wreckage after the collision, she noted sadly.
"Ah, sweet Jessa," Carnegie-Marx said. "We've been watching her grow." Jessa, 9, loved to dance, and loved to ride her pony, she said, choking up a bit. She had "the most gorgeous red hair, and big blue eyes.
"She was a sweet, sweet girl."
The school has been receiving assistance from a trauma intervention team from the Yavapai County Education Service Agency, Wildemaan said.
"We've watched students hugging each other, and supporting each other, and crying together," Carnegie-Marx said, adding that the trauma team members adjust their techniques to suit different age groups. "In a lot of cases, they literally sit on the floor with the kids. We're so grateful that there's been a team to come in and hold our hands and lead us through this."
Mountain Oak School is changing its annual fall Pumpkin Path event - which "Jules was always really involved with and was so looking forward to" - to be a memorial to the Hersh family. "We want to celebrate the lives of these students, but at the same time, have those moments for grieving," Carnegie-Marx said. At the event, the school will also accept donations to help the family with funeral costs.
The Pumpkin Path is open the public. It will be held 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, at Mountain Oak School, 1455 Willow Creek Road in Prescott.
Follow the reporter on Twitter @AZNewsguy.