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Students gather to mourn tragedy

EAGLE POINT -- A shock wave of grief swept through Eagle Point High School Monday, leaving friends of 16-year-old Carlie Knapp and her 14-year-old brother, Juan, awash in sadness.

Friends and teachers of the Knapps reacted at an all-school assembly to the latest news concerning the death of Carlie, a sophomore, Saturday morning in a car crash near McCloud, Calif., and the devastating injuries suffered by Juan, a freshman.

Juan, a promising member of the Eagles' wrestling program, remains in critical condition at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, Calif.

The Knapps' parents, 45-year-old Stephen and 41-year-old Catherine, also were killed in the crash.

Among Juan Knapp's injuries are a broken pelvis, numerous broken bones and a head injury. He continues to have internal bleeding and severe medical trauma, said Eagle Point Principal Mari Brabbin, who has been kept informed by family members.

The Knapp family was traveling to Reno, Nev., where Juan was to compete for Club West of Eagle Point in a regional wrestling tournament.

Friends, teachers and administrators at Eagle Point High attempted to deal with the tragedy Monday at the assembly.

There was a lot of crying and sadness, said Brabbin. Kids this age can be emotional and tend to cry a lot. They have good reason here.

Eagle Point teachers and counselors were put on alert Monday to be available in the hallways to help students cope, Brabbin says.

Carlie Knapp was a popular member of the student body, got good grades and got along well with everyone, said Brabbin.

She had good friends, and she was from a close-knit family that was always trying to help others, said Brabbin. Now, their friends are trying to help them.

Juan placed sixth in the Southern Oregon Conference wrestling championships and finished his first season of high school competition with a 15-15 record.

He's the kind of kid you expect would come home one day with a state championship, said Eagle Point coach Brad McBee. We're hoping, for his sake, it still might happen.

McBee, assistant coach Jim Mannenbach and three of his Eagle Point wrestlers were in Battle Creek, Mich., last weekend for a high school all-star tournament when they heard about the accident.

They (the wrestlers) were pretty devastated, said McBee. In the sport of wrestling, the wrestlers tend to bond closely together. As a freshman, Juan was younger than the kids with me in Michigan, but all of them reacted like he was their best friend.

Brabbin says Juan does not know he's the only survivor of the crash.

He's heavily medicated right now, and he doesn't know about what happened to the rest of his family, said Brabbin. He reacts to things he's told to do in the hospital, but he doesn't understand what's happened.

McBee foresees an extremely challenging recovery for Juan, and his wrestling background could be of benefit.

Juan has got a lot of grief ahead of him, not to mention all of the physical injuries he's going to have to overcome, said the coach. It's going to be hard on him. He's probably going to need some goals, like in wrestling, to help him face his future and be able to focus on what's left in his life.

Juan will have all the help he needs around here trying to get over this, said Eagle Point athletic director Bob Bergen, who also is director of Club West. This is a close community, and people are already coming together.

A memorial service for the family will be held Saturday at — p.m. at the Lake Creek Learning Center. All friends, family and well-wishers are invited.

It's a memorial in remembrance of Carlie and her parents, and one of hope for Juan and his future, said Brabbin. We expect a large crowd because that family was well-known and very popular here.

Western Bank of Eagle Point is collecting funds to aid Juan. For information, call Lisa Gray at 826-5634.