A small town is in mourning after two young lives were claimed on the same stretch of rural road.
Jae Ellis, 14, and Tiffany O'Neill, 16, were killed less than 24 hours apart in car crashes on Funk Road, a rough dirt road outside Calhan. Both girls were students at Calhan High School.
Those in the tight-knit community say they're floored that tragedy could have struck in such a devastating way twice.
"Two kids from Calhan, one day apart...it's just too much," Martha Garnett said.
Garnett knows the Ellis family well, including Jae's 16-year-old brother Jourdan, who was badly injured in the crash that killed his sister.
"Jae was just this bubbly, giggly girl...you just couldn't help but laugh with her. We're going to miss her a lot," Garnett said.
Jourdan and Jae were driving home after Jourdan's football practice Wednesday evening when he lost control and went off the road, hitting a fence. Jae died at the scene. Jourdan was transported to Memorial Hospital, where he underwent surgery for life-threatening injuries.
"They dropped off our daughter, then not even a half-mile down the road...I don't know what happened...he just lost control," a visibly grief-stricken Garnett told 11 News.
A crisis team set up at Calhan schools Thursday to be on hand to help students cope with what had happened to their classmate. Already mourning Jae, the community never dreamed the road would claim another life so quickly. But tragedy struck again later Thursday morning when Tiffany lost control in the same spot that Jourdan had, rolling her car twice and then hitting the same fence.
"Tiffany...we lost her too," Garnett said. She told 11 News both losses are heartbreaking for the Calhan school and community.
11 News has been reaching out to officials, working to learn why this particular spot is so deadly to motorists. A spokesman with El Paso County tells 11 News he doesn't have specifics yet for Funk Road, but that accidents on low traffic roads often stem from over-confidence and complacency when there are no other cars on the road.
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