The Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District’s schools are offering grief counseling after the death of Lincoln High School junior JaShawn Scott, who also was a member of the Lions football team, as a result of an Oct. 12 automobile accident.
District families and staff also are mourning the death of 2013 alumnus and middle school football coach Thomas (Tommy) Brown, who was found dead in the early morning hours Oct. 14.
Gahanna counselors sent out a tweet on Twitter on Oct. 14, saying it has been a tough few days at the high school. The social-media message (@GLHSCounselors) said, “All six school counselors are here for students, staff, families and anyone who needs a safe space to talk or receive support. Much love to our GLHS family.”>> Funeral arrangements for Tommy Brown <<
According to a report from Columbus police, at 10:03 p.m. Oct. 12, an unnamed woman was driving a Toyota Camry westbound on Morse Road, east of Sunbury Road.
With her were sisters Anju Biswakarma, 24, and Srijana Biswakarma, 22.
Kobie Stillwell, 18, of Gahanna was driving an Audi A6 eastbound on Morse Road, west of the intersection of Sunbury Road. His passengers were Scott, 17, of Gahanna and Khaleb Watson, 17, of Columbus.
The two vehicles collided within the intersection of Morse and Sunbury roads. Stillwell’s vehicle then collided with a Toyota Tacoma in the left-turn lane, reports said.
Passersby assisted Watson, Stillwell and Scott out of the Audi, just before it caught fire, according to reports.
Emergency-medical-service personnel transported Stillwell and Watson to Grant Medical Center, where they were examined for non-life-threating injuries.
Scott was transported to Mount Carmel East, where he was admitted for life-threatening injuries and later died.
EMS personnel pronounced the driver of the Camry and Anju Biswakarma dead at the scene.
Srijana Biswakarma was taken to Mount Carmel East and admitted with life-threatening injuries.
The Columbus Division of Police’s Accident Investigation Unit responded and initiated an investigation, which is ongoing.
On Oct. 14, Gahanna Lincoln literature and journalism teacher Chris Wagner took to social media (@mrwagnersclass), saying it’s important to allow everyone to process at their pace, in their own way, regarding the accident that involved three Gahanna students.
“Please be kind, supportive, and patient with those around you who may be touched by the incident,” he wrote. “It can be triggering for people who may not even be closely connected, so allow people to process as they work through their understandings.”
“While I wish there were words or phrases that encapsulated a way to make moments like this easier, I can say this: I am here for you and support you wherever you are in processing this information. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need support guidance, or just an ear to listen to in the coming days.”
Over the years, Brown served in different football coaching capacities at Gahanna Middle School West, most recently coaching a combined team from Middle School West and Middle School East, according to Judy Hengstebeck, district communications coordinator.
Gahanna Lincoln High School assistant principal Chuck Banks (@TheRealMrBanks) tweeted that he would always remember “’Touchdown’ Tommy Brown” with a big smile on his face.
“Love this kid and can’t believe he is gone,” Banks wrote. “My heart goes out to his friends, teammates, students and fellow staff. Be sure to let the people you care about know it everyday.”
Hengstebeck said the district has no details about Brown’s death but further information would be shared as deemed appropriate.
Grief counselors also were available at Westerville South High School because Brown was a first-year special-education teacher there.
Westerville City Schools communications director Greg Viebranz said the district learned of Brown’s death early Oct. 14, but he also couldn’t confirm the day he died or the cause.
Westerville South principal Mike Hinze sent a message to school district parents after learning early Oct. 14 that Brown had died.
“This was his first year with us and our entire WSHS learning community mourns this unexpected loss to our Wildcat family,” Hinze wrote.
He said counselors are available to talk with individuals who might need additional support.
“Though Mr. Brown had not been with us very long and his role was highly specialized, students may still mention his passing to you,” Hinze wrote.
Kenny King, who was on the coaching staff when Brown played for the Gahanna Lions, said a well-being check was called for Brown at his Clintonville residence in the early morning hours of Oct. 14, and he had died.
He said Brown was a Christian guy and was like a brother to others.
"When he walked in a room, he lit it up,” King said. “He was a genuine person.”
Funeral arrangements have not yet been made available for Scott.
Gahanna-Jefferson district and building leaders are finalizing plans for a moment of silence at the Oct. 18 football game to honor and remember Brown and Scott, according to an Oct. 15 memo from Superintendent Steve Barrett.