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Last updated: Wed. Apr. 02, 2014 - 06:58 am EDT

Dwenger classmates make memory book and cross for Fort Wayne teen killed in crash

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The south corner of Stellhorn and Hobson roads has been decorated in memory of Haley Nellum, 17, who was killed in a car crash early Saturday morning by a man allegedly fleeing a shooter.

Nellum, a sophomore at Bishop Dwenger High School, played on both the basketball and volleyball teams. The tributes left on the corner reflect a teenage girl. The memorial has stuffed lambs and frogs, flowers and prayers; putting a bright front on the pain, tears and loss that have come since Saturday.

Tuesday afternoon in a quiet room at Bishop Dwenger High School, three students worked with two staff members to put together a memory book for Nellum. A 5-by-7-inch photograph of the young woman lay on a table next one of a statue of Bishop Dwenger. Bright stickers still lay in their wrappers – butterflies, hearts and basketballs awaiting the attentions of the three young women.

Students have been emailed to bring in photos of Nellum, said Arelene Kuntzman, school counselor and mental health worker. Blank white sheets of paper will be passed out in the classrooms when students return from this week's spring break so they can share their memories of her. The finished book will be given to Nellum's family.

“She was a very popular sophomore; she was always happy,” Kuntzman said.

Kuntzman said it's very difficult for teens to deal with the unexpected loss of a classmate; many of the students have never lost someone, let alone one of their peers.

“Our comfort comes from the Lord,” Kuntzman said.

On bright-colored strips of paper the three girls wrote messages that would be delivered to the family Wednesday morning along with breakfast. Kuntzman said the school is a very close-knit family; there will be a lot of prayers going on in the chapel when students return from spring break. The school enlisted the help of grief counselors from Erin's House to help out April 7 and 8.

Jason Schiffli, Dwenger's principal, said they are working on getting permission to erect a permanent cross at the intersection where Nellum was killed.

Schiffli, sent a message to school families to explain that the school was open until 3 p.m. Tuesday and will be open noon-3 p.m. Saturday to support students as they grieve. Students who can't use the services provided at the high school this week can contact Erin's House directly at 1-260-423-2466.

ebogue@news-sentinel.com


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