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Schools mourn student's passing

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Accident: 13-year-old girl remains hospitalized

By John Severance

The Los Alamos School District is doing what it can to help students and staff as people come to grips with the passing of freshman Nikolas Ventura-Arencon, who died last week in a head-on collision on N.M. 4.

Another passenger in the car, Divine Fellers, 13, a Los Alamos Middle School student, remains at UNM Hospital in Albuquerque in stable condition recovering from injuries, according to Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department Captain Adan Mendoza.

Drivers Jennifer Ventura-Trujillo, 41, of White Rock and Dennis Bernal, 43, of Santa Fe, were released from Los Alamos Medical Center and Santa Fe’s Christus St. Vincent Hospital, respectively the night of the Nov. 21 crash. Mendoza said this morning that a careless driving citation was issued to Bernal on the day of the crash. Bernal also submitted to a drug screen, Mendoza said.

Mendoza said the investigation is ongoing.

“We are still doing interviews and talking to witnesses as well as waiting on lab results,” Mendoza said. “The investigation should be done in a timely manner. After all the work is done in the investigation, we will see if other types of citations or charges are warranted.”

Grief counselors, meanwhile, were made available to students and staff at the high school and middle school Monday and Tuesday, LAPS Superintendent Gene Schmidt said.

“We all miss this young fellow,” Schmidt said. “This is not easy for anyone. We are so sad for the family and we are sad for the friendship that will be lost. We will do what we can to keep the memory of this young fellow alive.”

High school principal Sandra Warnock and middle school principal Rex Kilburn sent letters home to parents Monday.

This is a portion of Warnock’s letter:
“It is with a great sense of sadness that I write this letter as it is never easy sharing the news of a death of one of our own. As many of you know, there was a tragic car accident on Wednesday, November 21, 2012. Nikolas Ventura-Arencon, a ninth grade student at Los Alamos High School, died as a result of his injuries.

“Upon their return to school today, resources for comfort and solace were made available to staff and students. Counselors from the high school, mid-school and Piñon, as well as district psychologists, were available for grief counseling for any student.  

“Counselors will follow Nikolas’ class schedule on Monday and Tuesday to ensure that grieving students will be comforted. In addition, counselors will be available to students and staff following funeral services on Wednesday.

“In closing, know that Nikolas will be missed not only by his classmates and staff, but also by our entire community.”

This is a portion of Kilburn’s letter:

“As many of you know there was a tragic car accident on Wednesday, November 21, and a male high school freshman died as a result of injuries incurred in the accident. Also in the car was a current eighth grade female student that sustained serious injuries, but should fully recover over the following weeks and months.

“The middle school counselors along with the help of two elementary counselors were available to talk with any students or staff that needed grief counseling. Helping students and staff deal with this grief will be a priority this week, especially following the service for the young man this Wednesday. Students who wish to attend the service on Wednesday will need to be excused by a parent or guardian.

“As the Principal of the Middle School my condolences go out to the family of the high school student for this tragic loss. Please know that my staff will be very alert to students that are grieving over this incident and we will do our very best to provide support to our students and staff.”

Mass of Christian burial will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Los Alamos.

The obituary for Ventura-Arencon may be accessed by clicking here.