CICERO, Ind., — A community is mourning the loss of two students killed while en route to prom. 24 hours later, the Hamilton Heights community gathered to pray and support the family.
It’s the night we all look forward to in high school. Kalen Hart spent all day getting ready for the big night with her date Lendon Byram. The final memories her father has are the photos taken at his house before they went off to her mom’s and to prom.
“She was on her way to my house so that I could see her. And my mom and her were sitting filling out invitations to her graduation,” said Kalen’s mother Jody Conaway.
Her mom never got to see her before the tragedy took place on 281st near Lacy Road in Arcadia. They were T-boned by another student also heading to prom.
“Then her dad called and broke the news that Kalen passed away,” said Jody.
24 hours later, the community came together to honor 18-year-old Kalen. Kalen was a senior at Hamilton Heights High School bound for Indiana University in Kokomo with hopes of becoming a teacher.
“She was amazing, she was a great person, she just loved everything. Happy spirit. She would never be sad, she was just amazing,” said Kalen’s big sister Bailey Burnworth.
But she’s also remembered for her singing talents, interest in astrology, and love for Taki’s and Fruit Roll Ups.
That’s why there are so many hugs, tears, and prayers throughout the community Sunday evening.
“There are so many people that loved her, and all of those people are just as overwhelmed as the rest of us. While my heart is breaking, my heart hurts for all of them as well,” said Jody.
Kalen’s boyfriend 17-year-old Lendon was a junior at Cathedral High School. He was an only child to his parents Rick and Summer.
“He was so sweet and so respectful. And I really feel like he was probably one of the best things that happened to Kalen in a while,” said Jody.
Kalen’s family was surround by loved ones. Her sister Bailey was left thinking of the fond memories once made.
“Bake horrible cookies and decorate,” said Bailey.
Jody says Kalen was not only her miracle baby but her youngest. But most of all after this heartbreak she wants everyone to hold their loved ones a little closer.
“People say it and it’s so cliche, tell everybody that you love them every chance that you get. Don’t take tomorrow for granted because it’s not promised, and this is proving that fact,” said Jody.
Two fundraisers have been set up one by the family and another by the friend. They’ve raised nearly $16,000 that will assist them with funeral expenses. The family also wanted to send a thank you to Kalen’s employer Pizza House which donated $1,000.