UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 8:54am
COLLEGE STATION -- A late-night skateboard outing with a friend turned fatal for one 14-year-old College Station boy when he was struck by a Texas DPS trooper.
Tonight a family and community are grieving as police continue to investigate.
The tragic death of Mark Harding Junior, an energetic and highly involved eighth grader at College Station Middle School, has students and faculty members distraught over the news.
"It's a tough situation for everyone involved, the community, the schools, the teachers, the faculty, the family for sure," said College Station ISD director of communications, Chuck Glenewinkel.
The accident happened just after one a.m. this morning when Harding and a friend were on skateboards near the H-E-B gas station off Highway Six.
"Officers arrived on the scene and found that a Department of Public Safety Trooper, in his DPS vehicle, had struck a 14 year old pedestrian who was on the feeder road," said Officer Rhonda Seaton, with the College Station Police Department.
According to the preliminary reports, Harding was trying to cross the road, when DPS officer, Justin Stohler, struck him.
Seaton says the feeder road can be extremely dangerous at night because of high speed limits and low visibility.
Harding was thrown from the impact, suffering a significant head injury.
And while the news of Harding's death may be hard for some students to hear, Glenewinkel said it's important to tell them the truth.
"They want to know the facts and it's important to give them the facts about what happened, acknowledge that yes you did lose a classmate, you did lose a friend. Here's what happened because knowing the facts is probably the best way to start the grieving process," Glenewinkel said.
Extra grief counselors have been brought in to the school to help not only the students cope with what happened but everyone else as well.
"It is a campus-wide, district-wide issue and a campus-wide, district-wide mourning that we'll be going through," Glenewinkel said.
And because grieving is different for everyone, counselors will stick around for as long as they are needed.