Park City official makes emotional plea after student deaths
A Park City Councilor on Thursday night, visibly emotional as she spoke about the deaths of two local 13-year-olds earlier in the week, pleaded for the community to work together before another tragedy occurs in the area.
Nann Worel’s comment, it appears, will spur some sort of action in coming weeks as officials attempt to lead the Park City area through a tragic time that already encompasses concern about the wide impact of the deaths in addition to the fatalities themselves. The authorities continue to investigate the deaths with the possibility of suicide as the cause.
Mayor Jack Thomas and the City Council were not scheduled to discuss the deaths of the Treasure Mountain Junior High students, but it seemed unlikely as the meeting approached that the elected officials could gather without addressing the situation.
Worel, who once was the executive director of the People’s Health Clinic, a not-for-profit that serves the uninsured, said she wants the community to brainstorm ideas that could unite the community prior to something happening.
“Given the tragic, tragic events of this week, and how amazing it is the way our community has come together around these families and friends. I’m sorry,” she said, emotionally. “Several people have reached out to me and said why do we wait until a tragedy happens to come together as a community.”
Worel said in an interview afterward she did not know the students. She said there have been suicides within her family and circle of friends.
The meeting comments led to a discussion involving the mayor and the other City Councilors about a response to the deaths. They mentioned several options and indicated they would continue the discussions at a later meeting. There was some concern that it might be too soon afterward to organize an event of some sort. The mayor desired a discussion at a meeting next week while Andy Beerman, a member of the City Council, said next week seemed too soon. The mayor said he wants “a community event for community’s sake.” Beerman said he does not want the upcoming discussion to be vague and said he wants to learn more about ideas from other elected officials.
Tim Henney, another City Councilor, said the primary role for the leadership of Park City is to create a “grounding for the community.” He wanted “more of what I would call support and help for our students, which, you know, I don’t think they get nearly enough in the public school education model.” He said there are other models, but a discussion of that sort would be different in nature from the one underway. Henney supported a brainstorming session.
Diane Foster, the Park City manager, meanwhile, said Summit County’s health director, Richard Bullough, plans to appear before the City Council with the results of a survey centered on mental health issues. The appearance has not been scheduled, though, she said.
The Park City Police Department has been heavily involved in the response to the deaths, investigating the cases and providing some of the information that has been made public. The Park City School District has also played an important role. It seems than an upcoming discussion by the mayor and City Council could also involve the School District and Summit County since any response – an event or changes to policies or programs – would have ramifications beyond the jurisdiction of City Hall.
The Park City Planning Commission on Wednesday approved a City Hall workforce or otherwise restricted housing development slated for the northern reaches of Old Town.