I didn't know this guy but I know a lot of you guys on here might have known him from surfing in Monmouth County. Anyway, this is the fourth junior or senior from Manasquan to do this. Just wondering if anyone knows what is going on around here. I grew up in Sea Girt and now live near Spring Lake Heights. I surf SL/ Belmar and Sea Girt and am sure I surfed with this guy before. Just wondering how bad things get to want to do this to yourself.
Manasquan High School junior Nick Wright said he was in his third class Friday morning when a crying friend "literally pulled me out of my classroom to give me a hug."
The friend also told Wright of the latest tragedy to strike their small school: Senior Matthew Caughey had been struck and killed by a train early that morning.
The 17-year-old from Spring Lake Heights was hit at around 7:20 a.m. in Sea Girt, south of the Beacon Boulevard crossing, said Penny Bassett Hackett, a spokeswoman for NJ Transit. The North Jersey Coast Line train left Bay Head around 7:09 a.m. and was headed north, she said.
Manasquan HS Senior Killed By Train
Caughey was the third Manasquan High student to be killed by a train since 2008, and the fourth student at the school who has died since last year.
Wright and Charlie Borges, another junior at the school, said it seems wrong that the two 16-year-old high school kids should even have to have conversations about the death of yet another classmate.
"High school is supposed to be the best time of your life," Borges said. "We went through so much in our freshman year," with the death of other schoolmates.
Counseling was set up at the school Friday, and officials worked with Monmouth County's traumatic loss unit and the Society for Prevention of Teen Suicide to establish counseling centers for Friday evening, said Schools Superintendent Geraldine Margin.
"Even if you didn't know him it still hurts because your friends are hurting," Wright said.
Margin said Caughey was a very good student who had been a member of the school's golf team since his freshman year.
"He was well liked and looking forward to going to college as far as we know," she said. "It's a complete shock."
She said she believes he was on his way to school, and as far as district officials know, his death was an accident.
"We don't know anything about this other than it was a tragic accident as far as we're aware right now," she said. "That's all we know."
There are about 1,030 students at the high school, which serves students from Avon, Brielle, Belmar, Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights and Sea Girt.
One student at the school died of natural causes in the winter of 2008; in June 2008, Andrew Clark Jr., 18, of Spring Lake Heights was killed by a train in Spring Lake; and in April of that year, another student, Timothy Schenke, 18, of Spring Lake Heights, a senior, was struck and killed by a train in Spring Lake.
In August 2008, a civil complaint was filed by the estate of Clark against St. Rose High School in Belmar and its former baseball coach, Bartholomew McInerney. The legal paperwork alleges the teen was "sexually abused, harassed and endangered" by McInerney.
Clark, a former baseball player at the Catholic high school, went to authorities with complaints about McInerney. He later transferred to Manasquan High School. McInerney has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go on trial next year.
Since last year, Manasquan school district officials have been working with the county's traumatic loss coalition and the teen suicide prevention group, Margin said. She said the district received a federal grant for Project Serve, which allowed that prevention group to train the entire staff on helping students deal with traumatic loss.
This year, on graduation night, a counseling center was open until 4 a.m. because Clark died on graduation night the previous year, she said.
"I can't say enough about our staff and the compassion they've shown our students and their families," she said. "It's been very difficult for everyone. . . . Everybody knows everybody in this little community."
She said that after students' deaths, officials were very concerned about the reaction of the rest of the students at the school.
They worked to identify those who were the closest to those who died, and have been working to support those students emotionally, she said.
For example, many of them participated in a local Habitat for Humanity project this summer.
"On behalf of the Board of Education, we offer our sincere condolences to Matthew's family and all members of our school community," Margin said in a statement on the district's Web site.