In the community

Vale High School mourns loss of junior killed in collision

VALE – Vale High School was in a state of mourning Wednesday, April 24, in the wake of a two-vehicle car crash that claimed the life of a well-known student and severely injured his sister.

“This is an extremely sad situation and our hearts go out to the family,” said Alisha McBride, Vale School District superintendent.

Wyatt Cannon, a 17-year-old junior, died in the crash Tuesday, April 23, while his 13-year-old sister, Sara, an eighth-grader at Vale Middle School, was injured and flown to a Boise hospital.

The crash occurred about 12 miles west of Vale on U.S. Highway 20. According to the Oregon State Police, a Chevrolet Trailblazer, driven by Hunter Brucker, 22, of Redmond, was traveling east and entered the westbound lane to pass a commercial truck, the state police statement said.

Wyatt Cannon, driving a Ford Maverick west, swerved onto shoulder to avoid colliding with the Trailblazer. The Trailblazer also swerved into the westbound shoulder and collided with the Maverick.

Brucker had minor injuries, police said.

On Wednesday afternoon, McBride sat outside the front doors of the high school after spending most of day inside helping school officials, teachers and counselors with the loss.

The usual jovial mood – laughter, shouts, smiles – that marked the end of the school day was absent as students departed.

 “Wyatt was an incredible young man and the Vale School District is devastated by this loss,” said McBride.

The district sent a letter home to parents Wednesday along with a document how parents can support their students.

“Additional administrators, substitutes, and counselors have been available in the building to support students and staff as we navigate this tragedy. We assisted students by setting up a support room staffed with specially trained members of our Crisis Response Team,” the letter said.

McBride said the loss of a student in a small town, and school district, like Vale reverberates.

“We are such a close-knit community, where everyone knows one another. That makes this loss difficult for everyone,” said McBride.

Cannon was a student in Vale High School teacher Jim Schaffeld’s robotics class.

“He was a really witty kid who found his niche in doing IT, tech stuff, game design, 3D printing,” said Schaffeld.

Schaffeld said Cannon was “kind of our in-house tech guy. He helped a number of teachers with their tech issues.”
“He became really passionate about that,” he said.

Schaffeld said he learned of the fatal crash Tuesday night.

“Really subdued would be putting it lightly,” said Schaffeld about the mood at the high school.

Schaffeld said kids wandered into his classroom all day.

“There was a lot Kleenex used,” he said.

Schaffeld, who has been a teacher for 19 years, said Wednesday was a “very tough day.”

Schaffeld said Cannon was a youth with a “bright future,” who liked to have fun.

 “He and his whole (robotics) team sometimes dressed up like the Blues Brothers at tournaments. The fedora, ties, jacket, all of that. He liked being fun and goofy,” he said.

A bank account to receive donations has been established at Rogue Credit Union in Vale and Ontario called the Cannon Family Care to provide help for the family. Volunteers also are helping the family with its farm.

Wyatt Cannon’s contributions to the Vale High School Robotics Team was recognized in a memorial inside the foyer of the school, Wednesday, April 24. Cannon, a junior at Vale High School, died in a car crash on Tuesday, April 23. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL)
Vale High School students wrote and then attached notes to a memorial in the foyer of the school to honor 17-year-old Wyatt Cannon who died in a car accident, Tuesday, April 23. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL)

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]