Two MHS students killed in Tuesday crash

Counselors were on hand Wednesday morning, Dec. 20, to help Maryville High School students after two 16-year-old classmates died in a single-car crash minutes after school let out Tuesday for the Christmas holidays.

Even though school was not in session on Wednesday, counselors were available and would be ready again when school resumes in January.

Steven James Webb, Home Avenue, Maryville, and Matthew Ryan Bibb, Dawnybrook Drive, Maryville, died in the crash that occurred shortly after 12:30 p.m. Tuesday on Sevierville Road near South Dogwood Drive. Both were sophomores. It appeared excessive speed was a contributing factor in the crash, Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp said.

Webb was driving the Acura Integra and Bibb was in the passenger seat at the time of the wreck. The crash occurred at 12:37 p.m., and officers were there investigating for about two hours, Crisp said.

The police chief said witnesses reported Webb was driving westbound toward Maryville on Sevierville Road, passed a vehicle on a double yellow line, attempted to pass another vehicle and swerved back into his lane because of an oncoming vehicle going east, away from Maryville.

Webb apparently overcorrected, his vehicle left the road, rotated and rolled over on the driver’s side and struck a utility pole.

Webb was pulled from the wreckage, taken by Rural/Metro Ambulance Service to Blount Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Ambulance personnel could find no signs of life with Bibb, and he was pronounced dead at the scene, Crisp said.

The chief said evidence at the scene and witness reports show that the vehicle was traveling in excess of the posted speed limit. Both were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

Crisp said tragedies such as Tuesday’s wreck can occur anytime, and it is always a sad situation. "Especially during the holidays," he said. "It is really rough anytime, but the holidays bring a different angle."

Maryville High School counselor Kaye Buckley said the main concern of staff in a situation such as this is the students on site at the time of an incident.

"When a tragedy occurs when we’re in school, we have a crisis plan we follow," she said. "Teachers are the ones who have to break news to students."

Buckley said students aren’t the only individuals who are assisted in such times. "Our other concern is teachers," she said. "We try to provide support for them.

"This is unusual in that students aren’t here," she said.

In situations such as this, teachers who worked with the students who died are available to speak with other students and console them.

"We encourage students to seek help," she said. "We’re glad they speak with their friends, talk to youth pastors and other important people."

Buckley said assistant principals Mike Casteel and Lynn Brown broke the news to faculty as soon as it happened. "We met as a faculty," she said. "It was tough."

Buckley said that many of the teachers are experienced and understand how to console students during crisis situations. The administration does work with younger teachers to know how to handle such circumstances and all teachers are given news about situations so as to be able to dispel any rumors or false information regarding tragic events.

In cases such as the wreck on Tuesday, teachers also watch students to make sure they’re handling the situation in a healthy way. "We look carefully for students who respond in ways that raise concerns," Buckley said. "We also go to talk to whoever were friends with the students who died. We seek them out."

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