Rutland County community mourns loss of 17-year-old killed in car crash

Vermont

Members of a Rutland County community are mourning a 17-year-old Fair Haven High School student killed in a two-vehicle crash Tuesday.

Vermont State Police said Kris Severance was driving to school with a friend on VT 22A in West Haven when he tried to pass a tractor-trailer. He lost control and the vehicle collided with a utility poll and another car before rolling over several times. The car came to rest on its roof, with Severance pinned inside. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A 14-year-old passenger was transported to Rutland Regional Hospital for treatment of internal injuries, police said. The driver of the second vehicle, a 63-year-old Orwell man, was treated at the scene.

Mike Bruno, owner and promoter of Devil’s Bowl Speedway racetrack in West Haven, says Kris had recently started racing. He and his father, Brian, spent almost every weekend at the racetrack. At a meeting Tuesday night, Bruno and Kris’ teammates took a moment of silence.

“You know at the end of the day he was here to have a good time. If he broke and didn’t finish, he had just as good of time as if he won a trophy. You don’t see that a lot, and we’re definitely going to miss him,” said Bruno.

Severance’s girlfriend Vanessa Duel described Kris as funny, kind, smart and always smiling. Duel says Wednesday marked their 10-month anniversary.

“It’s been a lot to handle because he was the one I always went to,” Duel said. “He was just a lovable person, made sure everyone had a smile, had a laugh on everybody’s face.”

Rutland High School Junior John McPhee Jr. raced with Severance. He said he’ll remember his kind spirit and good sportsmanship the most.

He was a good kid that everyone loved, and you could really find nothing you didn’t like about him,” McPhee said. “It hurts for sure, and I know it’s going to hurt a lot more when he’s not going to be there on the track.”

A GoFundMe set up by Duel’s mother, Stacey Grau, has raised nearly $7,000. Community members are invited to a benefit dinner November 20 at Castleton American Legion.

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