The Griffin Middle School community is grieving the loss of an eighth grader, who is believed to be one of the four people killed in a plane crash at the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport on Friday.
The DeKalb County Medical Examiner on Monday confirmed the identities of the four people killed in the crash, among them 13-year-old Julia Smith, who a letter from Griffin Middle’s principal indicates was an eighth grader at the Smyrna school.
“Our hearts are aching following the news that a beloved Griffin Middle School 8th grade student, Julia Smith, passed away on Friday,” Griffin Principal Loralee Hill said in a letter sent to the school community. “When we learned of Julia’s passing, we felt that it was important to inform our staff and students about the loss of a member of our family.”
Hill said the school would have trained grief counselors available to support students, staff and the school community after the loss.
“Ongoing grief and loss support will be available to any of our students who need more time to adjust to this tragedy,” the letter continues, listing emotions for parents and others to be on the lookout for in students.
“Your student may come to you for answers to difficult questions, answer their questions as simply and honestly as you can, knowing that it’s okay to say, ‘I don’t know the answer to that. Maybe we can find someone who can help us,’” Hill wrote in her letter. “Our hearts and prayers are with Julia’s family.”
She also encouraged parents to help their students through the grieving process by offering support, letting the students talk about the death, express their feelings, allowing them to be sad and cry and other practices.
The DeKalb-Peachtree Airport and DeKalb County Government also issued a joint statement on the crash on Monday, thanking first responders and extending “sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in the tragic airplane crash on Oct. 8.”
The statement said the airport is supporting National Transportation and Safety Board investigators to find a cause of the crash.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration and local authorities, a single-engine Cessna carrying 47-year-old Jonathan Rosen, 14-year-old Allison Rosen, Griffin Middle’s Julia and 42-year-old Lauren Harrington crashed at PDK airport around 1:10 p.m. on Friday.
MDJ partner FOX 5 Atlanta reports investigators said the plane reached an altitude of about 75 feet before falling to the ground and bursting into flames.