By Karl Terry
A single-vehicle rollover has claimed the life of an Elida High School student.
Clayton Ford, 16, of Chaves County, died at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday in Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas. He was a junior at Elida High School. His parents are Rick and Connie Ford, according to school officials.
Ford was seriously injured about 6:55 p.m. on Monday after his Mercury Tracer left the roadway at milepost 390 on U.S. 70, about 20 miles west of Elida, according to New Mexico State Police.
Ford was westbound in the vehicle when he failed to negotiate a right-hand curve. The vehicle traveled into the median, where state police say he over-corrected, sending the vehicle into a side skid across the westbound lanes, sliding into the ditch where the vehicle rolled several times.
According to a state police news release, Ford, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the vehicle during the accident.
He was transported to Roosevelt General Hospital in Portales by ambulance then flown to the Lubbock hospital a short time later.
Students at Elida High School were upset and concerned about their fellow student, said Elida School Superintendent Jack Burch. The students had written prayers and thoughts for Ford on a marker board in the hallway of the elementary school and others put together groups of cards to send to Ford.
“He was a jokester, he always seemed happy,” Burch said.
He was involved in a variety of activities at school, according to Burch, including basketball most recently.
Burch said Ford’s family lives in the extreme southern portion of the school district located in Chaves County. Burch said he was unsure of the exact mileage but figured the student’s drive home to be roughly 30 miles.
Burch said counselors were seeing people during the day Tuesday at school. He said that while Tuesday was the last day before the Thanksgiving break, counselors would be available to talk with students or staff on Monday as well.
“We’re a family, being a small school district,” Burch said. “So it is a loss. I lost a student. But I also felt like I lost my own kid,” said Burch, who had known Ford for seven years.
“He had a great sense of humor,” said Elida High School Principal Donna Tivis. “I didn’t have him in class this year, so I really missed having him.
“It was an extremely sad day at school today,” Tivis said Tuesday night. “The smaller the school, the harder this kind of thing is.”