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Parents of fatal crash victim: Stop the hate
HOLLAND PATENT, N.Y. (WKTV) - The family of a Rome teen killed in a car crash Tuesday in Floyd is focused on honoring the 16-year-old they adopted from Thailand at age seven and who bridged the culture gap with humor and affection. But they say the inflammatory comments and blame swirling around their son's death are making that difficult.
"It's a blame game, pushing it to somebody, bullying somebody else. We don't want that. That's not what we are here for and it's not what Anusha is about," says Debbie Chandler, Anusha's aunt.
On Wednesday, a Holland Patent teacher wrote a message on the NEWSChannel 2 Facebook page, calling for an investigation into Holland Patent Superintendent Kathleen Davis' decision not to cancel or delay school on Tuesday-the day of the accident. The post drew 600 'likes' and more than 130 comments, some of which personally attacked the superintendent.
Parent Lori Storms has children in the Holland Patent District. She's upset about a letter the superintendent sent home, explaining the decision process for closing or delaying school.
"And it states, 'parents need to assess the situation as well and determine if their child should stay home or board the bus," read Storms, from the letter, adding, "We pay her how many hundreds of dollars a year to make decisions for our children, in the best interest of our children? And she says it's our responsibility?"
Anusha Yagey's family has had to pause from selecting a burial plot and readings for his funeral in order to address the firestorm of controversy surrounding the accident that killed him. His aunt suggests that people pointing fingers and making pointing accusations instead turn that energy to their own families.
"Go home and hug your kids. We try not to teach our kids bullying...... this is all bullying and that's all what it is," said a tearful, clearly exasperated Chandler.
Rather than grieve the loss of their son, the Yageys have chosen to celebrate his life. They sit in his room, surrounded by his snowboard, lacrosse stick and countless family photos and laugh as they recall the unique, funny personality of the teen they say adopted them at age seven.
Holland Patent Superintendent Kathleen Davis issued a statement on Friday, explaining that the snow day explanation letter goes out many times a year in order to answer parents' questions about the decision process for delaying and closing school.
"My heart is heavy with grief. This tragedy has affected me in many ways. Anusha was a wonderful child who I had the great opportunity to work with over the years to ensure his transition to our country and the school district. On a personal note, this is a loss that will always be in my heart and mind," adds Davis.
School Board President Anne McGahey issued the following statement: "As you are aware, the Yagey family has made a specific request that our community's focus be on Anusha. The Holland Patent Central School District will honor and respect the Yagey family wishes and support them in this trying time. We request that you and the entire community also honor the family's request and allow them the time and space to grieve. This is the time to celebrate Anusha with continued support and compassion for the Yagey family."