The crowd that gathered Wednesday night with candles for Alex Carney knew that the Shawnee Mission East sophomore was never coming out of the coma he suffered after a horrific two-car crash in Prairie Village.
Thursday, police announced that Carney died in the hospital Wednesday even as his friends were saying goodbye in the vigil at Loose Park.
He died a “hero,” said the post on the family’s CaringBridge.org web page. Carney, according to his and his family’s wishes, is an organ donor.
“Continue to pray for the Carneys and the organ donation process and surgeries for the numerous families that will be impacted by his life,” the post said.
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The vigil began at 6 p.m Wednesday and police said Carney was pronounced dead at 8:30 p.m.
Carney was one of three Shawnee Mission East High School sophomores involved in the crash about 10:30 a.m. Feb. 7 on Cherokee Drive near West 71st Street. Carney was a passenger in a white Dodge Charger that made contact with a blue Hyundai. Both cars were traveling westbound, and the Dodge Charger lost control and hit a tree. Speed was a factor in the crash, police said.
Another passenger in the car, Alex Rutiaga, survived serious injuries and has been released from the hospital. The driver of the car and the adult driver of the Hyundai were not seriously injured. The crash remains under investigation.
Brain surgeons initially fought to save Alex’s life. But the family was told that a CAT scan of Alex’s brain showed severe and irreversible damage.
The vigil was organized by Alex’s classmates, and students and adults came from across the area to remember Alex and to show support for all of the families affected by the deadly crash.
Alex Carney’s father, Chris Carney, told the crowd that their support was helping him through the worst period of his life.
The support the family has received from the community gave him and Alex’s mother, Beth, the strength to join the gathered friends at the park.
“I will go back and tell Alex of the amazing support he’s got,” Chris Carney said.