JEFFERSON — Jefferson ISD, along with the city and Marion County are mourning the death of one of its own, 17-year-old Katelyn Mutai, who died early Sunday morning in a fatal vehicle wreck.
Marion County Judge Leward LaFleur described the Jefferson High School student as a bright light in the community.
“Katelyn was a very humorous young lady that always had a brilliant smile,” LaFleur expressed on his Marion County Judge Facebook page, upon her passing.
}Jefferson ISD Superintendent Rob Barnwell expressed that the district is saddened by her loss.
Katelyn Mutai, a beautiful Jefferson High School student, was tragically killed in an automobile accident early Sunday morning,” said Barnwell. “Katelyn was preparing for her senior year, where she was involved in many school-related activities.
“It has been widely shared that Katelyn had many friends, and it is apparent that she was loved by all who knew her,” the superintendent said. “She had a winning smile, a very upbeat personality, and a positive attitude.”
The county judge shared he had the pleasure of participating in Mutai’s criminal justice class, and witness her enthusiasm for education.
“I helped out at JISD in the criminal justice class this past school year and she was in the class,” said LaFleur. “Katelyn always had great questions and was witty and full of life!”
He asked all to join him in prayer for her and her family.
“In the face of the world we live in this is the saddest of all,” the county judge said.
“I will miss her smile and our conversations, quick most of the time as I checked out or walked in at Brookshire’s,” he said, noting Mutai was an employee there.
“I will surely miss: “Hey Judge, what’s up?” he said.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the wreck that claimed the life of Mutai occurred around 7:28 a.m., on Sunday. It happened on U.S. Highway 59 about one mile north of Queen City in Cass County.
“Preliminary investigation indicates a 2002 Chevrolet Suburban was traveling southbound on US 59,” DPS Sgt. Gregg Williams noted. “For an as yet undetermined reason, the Suburban left the roadway causing it to roll over several times.”
The driver of the Suburban, Nancy Pena, 17, of Linden, was taken to local hospital for minor injuries. Williams said Mutai, who was the rear seat passenger, was ejected from the vehicle. He noted she was not wearing a seat belt.
“She died at the scene and was taken to the Haggard Funeral home in Jefferson,” Sgt. Williams indicated.
Williams said the crash remains under investigation and no additional information is currently available.
“Our sincere condolences go out to Katelyn’s family and friends,” said Jefferson ISD Superintendent, Barnwell. “We also ask that all of you keep the Mutai family in your prayers as they work through this most difficult time.”
LaFleur echoed his sentiments.
“Love and many prayers to family, friends and Brookshire’s family,” the county judge said.