Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School

Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School

Two Manhattan teens were killed in a crash early Sunday morning.

Manhattan-Ogden School District Superintendent Marvin Wade said in an email that two Eisenhower Middle School students, Gaysha Alfred and Kenni Cantu, both 14, died in a single-vehicle crash early Sunday morning.

Wade sent an email to district families informing them of the student deaths Sunday afternoon.

The Kansas Highway Patrol crash logs indicate the wreck happened around 1 a.m. Sunday along Fort Riley Boulevard at the exit for Scenic Drive, near milepost 186. According to the crash log, the teenaged driver of a 2005 Chevy Trailblazer carrying Alfred and Cantu as well as two other Manhattan teenagers lost control for an unknown reason.

According to the KHP, the SUV crossed into the south ditch and struck a concrete bridge pillar. After the impact, the vehicle caught fire.

Responders took the driver, Paris Burgess, 17, a recent Manhattan High graduate, and another passenger, Alecia Smith Haynes, 13, an Eisenhower student, to Ascension Via Christi Hospital to get treatment for minor injuries.

Responders flew another passenger, Jean-Carlos Vasquez-Ponce, 14, to the University of Kansas Medical Center with potentially serious injuries. His condition was not known.

Additionally, four Riley County police officers were treated and released for smoke inhalation while responding to the wreck. KHP, Manhattan and Riley County fire departments, and Riley County EMS also responded.

Authorities say it’s unknown if Alfred, Cantu, and Vasquez-Ponce were wearing their seatbelts, but the other passengers were wearing theirs.

Vasquez-Ponce is a student at Anthony Middle School. Wade did not say what schools the other students attended.

Starting Monday, Wade said counselors and school staff members will be available during school hours to talk with those who need assistance. He said in his email that it is important to deal with feelings of grief and loss while also maintaining a normal school day routine.

Wade encouraged parents to watch for any signs of distress among their kids over the next several days, and to talk with them about their feelings regarding the student deaths.