Eleva students mourn loss of classmate, honor his memory

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ELEVA, Wisc. (WEAU) - Classmates in Eleva honored a nine-year-old boy killed in a crash Tuesday morning.

The Eau Claire County Sheriff's Department identified the boy Thursday as Zayvier Barnes.

He and his father, Graham Barnes, along with his seven-year-old sister Eylsa and two-year-old brother Qwynn were heading south on Highway 93 when deputies said another driver lost control of his car and crashed into them.

It was snowing that morning and that driver was ticketed for driving too fast for conditions, deputies said.

Zayvier Barnes died at the hospital.

With counselors on hand, the Eleva-Strum school district has taken time to help students through the grieving process, finding ways heal, while remembering their friend.

Graham Barnes and daughter, Eylsa are still hospitalized with back and neck injuries and son, Qwynn has been staying with his grandparents in Eleva, as he heals from a broken clavicle and a gash on his head.

A few blocks away, Zayvier's classmates are finding ways to heal and remember their friend.

"We met with his fourth grade students (Wednesday), right away in the morning, our guidance counselors, we talked with them; a very emotional time," Eleva Elementary and Intermediate School Principal Marty Kempf said. "One of his friends said, 'We planned to get together at my house, and we didn't get to do it.'"

A memorial made from cups with messages from the students lined the fence outside his school.

"(Zayvier) had his hand raised for every question, and he knew the answers to all the questions. Very science oriented student, enjoyed doing experiments, enjoyed school as a whole and had lots of friends," Kempf said.

"For the students, a lesson that can be learned is that it's important to enjoy that fun that you're having at (ages) nine and ten. And that's the most important thing for them. Because you never know when something like this could happen."

Zayvier's grandmother said he wanted to be a scientist and had won citizenship awards for his kindness in class, twice. She thanked the community for its support.

A fund for the family to help with travel expenses and meals while at the hospital, is set up at the United Bank in Eleva. The bank can be reached at (715) 287-4412.