Drain copes with 2 losses: 'As a community, we need to find our path'

Drain copes with 2 losses: 'As a community, we need to find our path' »Play Video
Students and friends spell out the name of Austin Lundeen while gathering around an impromptu memorial at North Douglas High after their classmate was accidentally shot Thursday night - Photo contributed by Megan Lymath

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DRAIN, Ore. -- Students and faculty in the North Douglas School District are mourning the loss of a second member of their community, which caused the superintendent to push back the start of school by one day.

The small town of Drain is working through the loss of a high school sophomore, Austin Lundeen, and the longstanding secretary at the town’s elementary and middle school, Debby Huckins.

Jeff Davis, a football coach and teacher at North Douglas High, said Huckins’ death on Friday was sudden and unexpected. 

“I've been here for thirty years, and have known her all thirty of those,” said Davis. “Not only was she a colleague and a fellow educator, she was a good friend. That's a tough one … we're all going to miss her."

North Douglas Superintendent John Lahley said that instead of opening the school doors on Tuesday, the district plans on holding a meeting for staff to go over how they will move forward.

Davis said counselors will be on both campuses when students start school on Wednesday to help cope with the losses.

“As teachers and educators, to get ready to meet the kids on Wednesday. And as a community, we need to find our path to how we're going to grieve and support one another,” said Davis.

Candy Vichery is a teacher at the elementary and middle school She said the whole town is heartbroken.

“She's who you went to when you needed something, to find out who to go to or you needed something done … she was on it. If she said she was going to do it, she was dependable,” said Vichery.

Many of the people around the town that our news team reflected these sentiments, saying Debby Huckins was an irreplaceable member of their community. Her memorial is set for Friday.

Huckins died just one day after the accidental shooting of Austin Lundeen.

"He was definitely a character and kind of kept things alive on the team," N. Douglas football coach JJ Mast said of Lundeen. "So you know, it's still setting in, we're all having a pretty tough time."

Deputies said Lundeen had been spending the night at his friend's house in the 3800 block of Hayhurst Road in Drain.

They were called out to the residence at around 10:45 p.m. after getting calls of a fatal shooting. Officials pronounced Lundeen deceased at the scene.

The boys were in the bedroom together when deputies say they decided to handle a hunting rifle belonging to the 15-year-old.

The younger boy was handing the rifle to his friend when the rifle accidentally discharged and struck the teen, the sheriff's office said.

The shooting was investigated by the Sheriff's Office and the Douglas County Deputy Medical Examiner's Office and determined to be accidental.

*District officials ask that all faculty and staff are asked to report to the multipurpose building at 9 am Tuesday, Sept. 3.