Who were Kalen Hart and Lendon Byram? $22K raised for funeral of Indiana teens who died in crash on way to prom

Two fundraisers were set up, both of which surpassed their goals, to provide support to the families


                            Who were Kalen Hart and Lendon Byram? $22K raised for funeral of Indiana teens who died in crash on way to prom
Kalen Hart and Lendon Byram were travelling with two others whent he crash occurred (Twitter/@DariusJohnsonTV)

ARCADIA, INDIANA: Two Indiana high school students died and two others were injured in a car crash on Saturday night on their way to prom, school authorities revealed. Hamilton Heights senior Kalen Hart and her date, Cathedral High School junior Lendon Byram, died in a crash on their way to prom on Saturday evening. The victims' ages were not revealed.

A day later, the community at Hamilton Heights got together to pray and support the family. Two fundraisers were set up, both of which surpassed their goals, to provide support to the families. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s the worst nightmare,” Hamilton Heights Superintendent Derek Arrowood told WTHR. “It’s a horrible situation. So what we do in horrible situations is we try to love each other and we try to support each other and we try to make sure everyone’s needs are met to the best of our abilities and that’s absolutely what we are working on now.”

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Who was Kalen Hart?

Kalen Hart, 18, who would have turned 19 in August, was bound for Indiana University in Kokomo with hopes of becoming a teacher. The Rev. Stephen Schultze of the Wesleyan church told IndyStar that Hart was full of spunk and fun. On Sunday, he said he talked with several of her colleagues.

“She was amazing," Hart's sister Bailey Burnworth said to WTHR. "She was a great person. She just loved everything. Happy spirit. She would never be sad. She was just amazing.”  Her mother Jody Conaway described her daughter as "sweet and respectful." Of Bryam, she said: "I really felt like he was one of the best things that ever happened to Kalen for a while…we will miss him at our house. We will miss him."

Kalen's family said to WTHR that she loved choir and singing. Art, painting, astrology, and fast food were some of her other passions.



 

Who was Lendon Byram?

Lendon Byram's friends said the young man was distinguishable with his big hair and famous smirk, adding that it was his kindness that made him special. "My daughter was talking about him this morning and she said 'he was friends with everybody, mom,'" WTHR quoted Cathedral High School Principal Julie Barthel as saying during Sunday's memorial. "The other young man that stood up [during the service] said, ‘I didn’t know him that well but every time I saw him, he was kind, inviting and caring.' So, that’s who Lendon was.”   
 
Various teachers described him as being a lover of history and also a great writer, the news outlet said. "He would send me emails, random emails about lost Roman legions in Asia and the secession of Napoleon, but that passion... every time you open an email like that, it means so much as a teacher," his history teacher said.

Bryum was also recently inducted into the National Honor Society. He qualified for a national tournament as part of his school's speech and debate team.



 

 

'Didn’t even get to see her in prom dress'

“She was on her way to my house so that I could see her. And my mom and her were sitting filling out invitations to her graduation,” said Hart’s mother, Jody Conaway to Fox59. But she never got to see her daughter. The couple had reportedly spent the whole day getting ready for the big night, a night to look forward to in high school. 

“I didn’t even get to see her in her prom dress with her hair done and her makeup done, and I mean I’ve gotten to see her partially in her prom dress in the last two days when I’ve went to the coroner’s office to see her,” said Conaway to WishTV.

Conway has created a Facebook fundraiser to help pay for funeral and burial expenses. The fundraiser has surpassed its $15,000 goal within a day. By 7 pm on Sunday, as many as 251 friends, family and community members had donated to the fundraiser, WTHR reported. Two days later, they have managed to raise $19,046.

Another fundraiser was launched on GoFundMe to support Hart's family and to purchase remembrance items and other things her family, her mother, in particular, could use to reminisce the teenager. "I’m trying to raise money to get remembrance items, safe keeps, and other things her family could use to keep her in mind," reads the GoFundMe set up by Chad Miller, a friend of the family. "She was such an amazing person; she was loving, caring, sweet and just an all-around happy person. I know it is devastating and I would just love to help."

"My goal is to raise $2,000 to help her get back into her feet after this accident and to help everyone have something to remember her from," he added. The fundraiser has garnered $3,851 so far.

Kalen Hart and Lendon Byrum (Facebook/Robert Conaway)

What happened to Kalen Hart and Lendon Byram?

Kalen Hart was riding in the front passenger seat and her date, Lendon Byram, an only child to his parents, was driving when the car was t-boned at the intersection of 281st Street and Lacy Road at around 5:15 pm, on Saturday, reported WTHR.

A prom was scheduled by the Hamilton Heights School Corporation on that night. However, the school canceled the event just before 7 pm after receiving news about the two high school students who died, and two others who were injured in the crash, who were taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the other vehicle declined medical assistance. 

The two fundraisers have raised $22,967 when this article was published. A prayer vigil was held to honor the lives of the young couple.

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