Maire Elementary mourns family killed in car crash

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 9, 2018

 Two Maire Elementary School students and their parents were killed in a car crash April 7 while on a family vacation in Colorado.

Two Maire Elementary School students and their parents were killed in a car crash April 7 while on a family vacation in Colorado.

File photo by Deb Jacques

CITY — The Maire Elementary School community returned from spring break April 9 to tragic news that two Maire students and their parents had been killed in a car crash while on a family vacation in Colorado.

According to a press release from the Grosse Pointe Public School System, Christina and Thomas Toth, and their children — third-grade student Ella and fifth-grade student Sophia — were killed on an interstate while en route in Sterling, Colorado.

“They were a caring, loving family,” Community Relations Specialist Rebecca Fannon said in the statement. “Their daughters were lively, vibrant children that were loved by both the adults and students at Maire.”

The district’s social workers, psychologists and counselors gathered as a crisis team at Maire on Monday to provide grief counseling to students, staff and parents. The crisis team will be available for as long as needed.

“It’s sad and tragic. It’s just a tough day for everybody. They were two excellent students — just top-notch kids,” GPPSS Superintendent Gary Niehaus said. “The parents were supportive. They were very active at Maire. Mom was kind of an organizer. She was active on the PTO, being a volunteer and as a room mother.”

The superintendent added that the Maire community was “doing as well as can be expected” at this time.

“Everyone is shocked and saddened and wondering why,” Niehaus said. “As time passes, we’ll be communicating, sharing memories and sharing stories.”

Niehaus said it was too early to discuss if there would be any type of remembrance gathering for the family, but he felt that Maire officials would at some point remember the Toths with a memorial tribute at the school.

“During the course of the week, Maire staff will be working with our parent and community leadership to determine how we can best remember this outstanding family,” the district press release stated.

According to a Colorado news story that Niehaus received via local police, the crash occurred at about 12:10 a.m. April 7 when the family’s sports wagon and a semi-trailer somehow collided.

District officials have shared resources at the National Association of School Psychologists website with parents to help them explain the tragedy to their children in an age-appropriate manner. The website is at www.nasponline.org.

During an April 9 Grosse Pointe Park City Council meeting, Mayor Robert Denner asked for a moment of silence to honor the family.

“The whole Grosse Pointe Park community mourns the tragic death of the Toth family,” he said.

City Councilwoman Lauri Read knew the family personally.

“They will be sorely missed,” she said. “They were a wonderful family.”

The April 9 GPPSS Board of Education meeting also began with a moment of silence to remember the Toth family.

“They were an important part to our Maire community, and they’ll be greatly missed,” school board President Brian Summerfield said. “It was a really tragic event, obviously. I really appreciate the administration and the staff providing Maire the support they needed today.”

“I also want to send my whole heart over to Maire,” school board Vice President Margaret Weertz said. “It’s a very sad day today. Thank you for all the staff who pulls together over there for the Toth family.”

Staff Writer K. Michelle Moran contributed to this report.