Madison schools release names of three students killed in Middleton crash

Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 11:34 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2021 at 7:02 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Madison Metropolitan School District released the names of the three students who were killed late Saturday in a crash in Middleton in a statement Monday mourning their loss. Earlier in the day a spokesperson for the district had confirmed that one of the students had attended Madison West High School.

In a follow-up statement, the district called the death of Simon Bilessi a “heartbreaking loss” and described the two Middleton High School students who also died in the crash, identified as Jack Miller and Evan Kratochwill, as “equally amazing.”

“A beloved member of our school community, Simon was an excellent student, a tremendous soccer player, and a good friend to all who had the opportunity to meet him,” the district’s statement said.

Bilessi attended West for a year, and has gone to Middleton High along with Miller and Kratochwill.

Simon Bilessi
Simon Bilessi(Jon Szczepanski/Wisocnsin Rush Soccer Club)

“Losing a child is an unspeakable tragedy, and West High School, along with our neighbors in Middleton, are grieving the loss alongside their families and friends, MMSD’s statement continued. “We ask our community to please keep them in your thoughts during this terribly difficult time.”

In an update on her school’s response to the tragedy, Middleton High Principal Peg Shoemaker also said the student body is “heartbroken” and described her students as both wonderful scholars, athletes and human beings.

“Each of them were ‘bright lights’ within our student body: positive, kind, funny, inclusive,” she added. “The loss of their presence will impact our students and staff profoundly.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to help cover the costs of the three boys’ funerals. Rush Wisconsin has also set up a fundraiser specifically for the family of Simon Bilessi, whose family currently lives in France.

Support for Students

At West, school administrators have set up Van Hise gym as a place for students to get support on Monday and they plan to continue offering assistance for students and staff into the future.

“The impact something like this has on a community can affect people in different ways. Young adults respond to grief and loss in a number of ways,” the district said. “West High is providing support for students today in the Van Hise gym and continued support to students and staff.”

Additionally, the district encouraged parents to reach out to student services at 608-204-4100 if they feel a child is unusually upset, worried, or has trouble sleeping.

According to the Middleton High School statement, high school student services and leadership staff met Sunday, the day after the crash, to develop a plan to support the Middleton High community. They intended to share it with students and staff Monday morning and are offering them calm spaces, activities and support. The district also opened its doors Sunday evening for a for students to come grieve the loss of their classmates.

In a letter to parents, the Middleton Cross Plains Area School District encouraged students and staff to reach out to grief counselors and the student services department, rather than meet at the site of the memorial. The Dane County Sheriff’s Department noted it was concerned about people’s safety, as Mineral Point Road is a heavily trafficked roadway.

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