Special to the Grove Sun
GROVE — A one-vehicle crash that killed two Grove men and critically injured two other men has touched nearly everyone in this small Grand Lake community.
Brendan “Chase” Jeffries-Campbell, 21, and Derek Arneecher, 22, both of Grove, died Dec. 23. Also hurt in the crash was Jesse Hale, 19, and Isaiah Crawford, 21. They were flown by helicopter to hospitals in Joplin, Mo., where they were admitted in critical condition. Both men have since been released.
Presents that lay beneath Christmas trees remained unopened as the families mourned and make funeral preparations.
The talk of the crash in this community of 5,000 was only surpassed by the fact that seven classmates of the men have died as a result of automobile accidents in the past four years.
Dan Hinman, Grove assistant police chief, said the cause of the crash remains under investigation. The area where it occurred has been notorious over the years for accidents, he said.
The men were traveling in a four-door Dodge pickup on Har-Ber Road southwest of Grove about 4:50 a.m. For an unknown reason the truck ran off the road and struck several trees and guardrails, flipped and landed on its roof.
Arneecher's funeral was held Monday; Jeffries-Campbell's funeral on Tuesday. Seating for both funerals was full capacity.
All of the families were fourth-generation Grove families. The men graduated from Grove High School, just like their parents, grandparents and some of their great-grandparents.
“I went to school with their grandparents and taught their parents in my kindergarten classes,” said Carol Pritchard, a retired Grove teacher.
There is not a person in Grove who did not know each of the four families either directly or indirectly, she said.
Both men were engaged. Jeffries-Campbell was planning to be married in January and begin pursuing a nursing degree. He had a son, Jesse Campbell.
“As a fellow classmate of Chase and Derek’s parents, words can not express the grief and pain that I feel for the families,” said Cindy Burt-McFarland.
Social networks such as Facebook and MySpace are covered with condolences and remembrances for the men who died, but also for their families and the two who survived the crash.