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14-year-old killed in tragic Riverton crash Tuesday remembered by friends

Posted at 9:43 PM, Oct 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-03 16:33:50-04

RIVERTON, Utah -- Friends, classmates and teachers of a 14-year old killed in a crash in Riverton Tuesday morning are paying their respects and remembering the life of Kaiden Cherrington.

Cherrington passed away after Unified Police said the car she was a passenger in turned left and hit an oncoming car on 12600 South. The crash left a young girl riding in the car with Cherrington in serious condition at Primary Children's Hospital, and the driver in fair condition.

She was heading to school at Oquirrh Hills Middle School just down the street.

Teacher Esther Hopkin said she learned just before an advanced dance class that Kaiden was in, that the 9th-grade student had died.

Hopkin said she decided not to move forward with the lesson, and instead let her students process the death together.

"I had them do a lot of writing about it," she said. "And then we ended with, 'What are your positive memories of her?'"

Hopkin said one student shared that Kaiden befriended the student when the student didn't know anyone in the class.

"One student, she said, 'You know when this dance class started at the beginning of the semester? I didn't feel like I knew anybody,'" Hopkin said, becoming emotional at recalling the story. "'I kind of felt a little bit alone occasionally, but then Kaiden-- I remember a couple times towards the beginning when she would just reach out, and, 'Hey how are you.''"

On Tuesday evening, friends shared similar stories as they hung streamers, balloons and a sign that read, "We miss you Kaiden" at the corner where the crash took place.

They laid down flowers, candles and teddy bears.

Seventh-grader Sage Jenson said Kaiden was the first person to introduce herself when Jenson was in a new class at church.

"She was the first person to come over and say, 'Hi it's nice to meet you, and I'm so glad you're here,'" Jenson said. "She was just so excited about it."

Fellow 9th grader Cali Skinner said she'll remember Kaiden as "always bright, always laughing, always happy."

She and others wrote notes that they placed inside balloons to release into the sky.

"We are just letting her know that we love her, we miss her, and we appreciate all that she's done for us," Skinner said.

The group huddled together and let go of the balloons.

As the blue balloons rose above the intersection, Cherrington's friends shouted, "We love you Kaiden!"

The Jordan School District said they've brought in grief counselors to help students cope with the loss of Kaiden Cherrington. They encouraged parents to connect with their kids and validate their thoughts and feelings.

A fundraising page has been set up to help Cherrington's family.