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Students handle challenge of dealing with death of friends

West students.PNG
Posted at 8:09 AM, Mar 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 10:09:44-05

Sunday marked the end of Billings Strong weekend, proclaimed by Mayor Bill Cole.

The idea was to support families, friends and students after four high school students, one from Senior and three from West, were killed in accidents in February.

Senior student Christine Croft died, more than three weeks ago on Virginia Lane and Rimrock Road.

West students Conner Devere, Kylie Larson and Thomas Lindsay died in the crash on South 64th Street West, more than a week ago.

"Tommy , I knew since like seventh grade," said Adrianna Yellowtail, a West student. ""He was a really, really funny kid. He was just very heartwarming and very nice."

Yellowtail is one of several students who came out for help handling the deaths of friends.

"She put this little thing together," Yellowtail said about her mother, who is a therapist. "Just like help people with like therapy and stuff and like help cope with the feelings and stuff, because not many people know how to cope with that."

Erin Rodriguez was one of three therapists who helped the students last week at the Movement Montana dance studio.

"It's okay to feel however they feel," said Rodriguez, Selah Clinical Services owner/therapist. "It's okay for them to be confused. It's okay for them to feel lonely. It's okay for them to be sad. And to reach out to talk to friends, talk to family talk to anybody, and just try to work through these feelings and build coping skills."

Yellowstone County Sheriff's Captain Kent O'Donnell reminded the students about driver safety.

"Hopefully in this this private intimate setting like this, that we get the chance to kind of talk one on one and reassure the kids and hopefully they reassure each other a little bit," he said.

"Being safe and really just like being aware of what's like happening," said Lauryn Ruff, a student at West. "And it just makes me really sad and I know that like, parents and students everywhere, just really trying to keep their kids safe."

"I just want kids to be aware that if they are still feeling some sort of depression, get help, reach out," Rodriguez said. "It takes as long as it takes."

She said it may take six months, two years or longer to get over the

The students talked about how much it has helped to have support from other highs schools, along with the Billings Strong proclamation from Thursday through Sunday,.