School, community mourn after tragedy

BAKERSFIELD — A distinct heaviness lay over the student-less Enosburg Falls High School and quiet, back roads of Bakersfield Monday as the two communities absorbed the loss of a young student and prayed for the survival of another.

“This is just yet another horrible tragedy for our communities,” said EFHS principal Erik Remmers. “The community, yet again, suffered the loss of one of our most precious resources: our kids.”

He referred to Dawson Perley, 15, of Enosburg Falls, who died at University of Vermont Medical Center Sunday following an all-terrain vehicle accident on Friday. According to Vermont State Police, Perley was riding on an Audi side-by-side ATV on King Road in Bakersfield with two other students, Cole Elkins, 15, and Carter Paradee, 14, both of Bakersfield.

The ATV rolled over on the side of the road. The emergency call for the accident came in at 12:54 p.m., and Vermont State Police, Bakersfield Fire Department, Enosburgh Ambulance, Enosburg Heavy Rescue and AmCare Ambulance responded.

AmCare transported one of the boys, who was in critical condition, to Collins Perley Sports & Fitness Center in St. Albans Town, where a Dartmouth Hitchcock Advance Response Team helicopter lifted him to UVM Medical Center. The two other boys – one in critical condition and the other in stable condition – were transported by Enosburgh Ambulance to Northwestern Medical Center, where they were treated before being brought to the Burlington hospital.

According to a UVM Medical Center spokeswoman, Elkins was discharged from the hospital. Paradee remained in critical condition as of Monday afternoon.

VSP are continuing to investigate the accident and its cause.

As news of the accident spread over the weekend, the Bakersfield and EFHS communities responded with calls on social media for prayers and a candlelight vigil, which was held on the Bakersfield School soccer field Saturday night. According to Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union superintendent Jay Nichols, 200 people came out for the vigil.

“All word of mouth,” said Nichols yesterday.

In speaking about EFHS rising sophomores Perley and Elkins and rising freshman Paradee, Nichols said they are known in the area as popular, athletic kids.

“They’re great kids, they’re from great families, they’re all in our thoughts and prayers at this time,” he said.

In an effort to support the boys’ classmates, Nichols said the high school held counseling sessions for anyone who needed them yesterday. “We’re here to support the community as best we can,” he said.

Remmers, who was at EFHS yesterday, said the school opened its doors less to counsel students and more to just give them a place to come together, hang out in the gym, and play a little basketball.

“We had a number of students who showed up this morning,” said Remmers Monday. “Really what we wanted to do was give the kids an opportunity to gather.”

He added, “It’s tough this time of year – we aren’t able to wrap around them like we can during the school year.”

Students at EFHS suffered a similar loss just over two years ago when student Brandon Gleason, then 17, was killed in a car accident on April 26, 2013 after the car in which he was riding was struck by a vehicle driven by Patrick Prue, of Franklin.

Prue was charged with DUI with a fatality resulting. Just as a pre-sentencing investigation was getting underway this past winter, Prue died at age 61 at the Vermont Respite House in February.

As in the case with Gleason, Remmers said the loss of Perley and Paradee’s continued critical condition have hit the community hard. On Monday, just a traffic cone and some yellow tape marked the spot where the crash occurred.

“We’re heartbroken,” he said. But, Remmers added, everyone gets through tough times like this one by coming together. “This is a really strong community that bands together,” he said.

At the moment, Remmers said he and others are focusing on being supportive and respectful towards the families involved. “It’s about them right now,” he said.

Those wishing to help the family of Dawson Perley can do so in several ways. His relatives are asking for any electronic versions of photos of him to be sent to, and any printed versions of photos can be dropped off at EFHS during school hours.

Food donations can be sent to the homes of Jenn Wright, Dennis and Donna Ovitt or Mike and Reba Fairbanks. Addresses can be obtained by contacting Annie Lockerby by private message on Facebook.

Monetary donations can be made to:

Dawson Perley Athletic Scholarship Fund

Community National Bank

PO Box 469

Enosburg Falls, VT 05450

In addition, a gofundme account has been set up to help fund Dawson Perley’s services: