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Audubon Teachers and Students Learning To Deal With Tragedy Together

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AUDUBON, Iowa -- Fourteen year-old Jamison Steckler and Eleven-year-old brother Gavin were many things to the Audubon community. "(Jamison) was really close to me probably like a brother," said fellow 8th grade student Kobie Otten.  Audubon Superintendent Brett Gibbs said the brothers were heavily involved in the community, "You go to church with them, you see them at the grocery store.  Your kids and grandkids play sports with them.  I feel like this rocks the whole community."  The two were killed in a three vehicle crash with a semi along I-80 on Saturday, on their way to a youth basketball tournament in Anita.  Their father Toby, also injured in the crash was a coach.  Their 4th grade brother Mason is recovering with a broken arm.  "Saturday I was wreck," said Gibbs.

Teachers and district administration met together Sunday with a crisis team and made a plan of action.  "As bad as we are feeling Monday morning we have to be there for those kids," said Gibbs.  Those kids had a plan too, Nearly 500 wore red, the Audubon Wheelers' school colors.   "It felt good that everyone was representing it and appreciated it and remembering them," said Otten. Superintendent Gibbs said something special happened once students arrived to school. "By the end of the day, I think the staff would tell you we probably needed those kids as badly as they needed us. It was really helpful."  Teachers emphasized to students that grief can come in many forms.  "There's going to be times today you are going to laugh because Jamison was a funny kid and he liked to make people laugh and that's ok."

Monday night was supposed to feature an annual holiday concert. What usually brings joy this time of year is now empty as Gavin and Jamison were scheduled to perform.  The concert is now postponed.  "We just didn't feel it was fair to our other kids to make them come and be cheerful at this point in time.  It will be rescheduled," said Gibbs.  The loss will make it hard for many to return to normal but for some the crash just moved Gavin and Jamison to another place where Kobie says they'll forever stay Wheeler Strong.  "I still think he's there in your heart.  He'll always be there just to help you out if you need it.  He's not really gone, he's still there to me."

An account for donations has been set up for the Steckler Family at Audubon State Bank.  Donations can be made in person or mailed to Audubon State Bank, PO Box 149, Audubon, Iowa, 50025. 100% of the donations will go directly to the Steckler Family.