Courier News (Bridgewater, NJ)
October 30, 2001
Schools deal with painful death of student after parade float accident
Author: Kara L. Richardson; Staff Courier News
Article Text:By KARA L. RICHARDSON Staff Writer A quiet, but enthusiastic boy was missing Monday from a fourth-grade classroom in Princeton. George Dale, 9, died after he fell off a Montgomery Township Spirit Day float Saturday morning. He was tossing candy with his father Henry Dale, an eighth-grade teacher in Montgomery. It is unclear whether George, who attended Johnson Park School, was accidentally shoved off the float, if there was a bump in the road or if the float made a sudden jolt that knocked him off the trailer and possibly under a wheel. While the accident is still under investigation, the boy's family and two school districts - Princeton Regional and Montgomery - remembered George, ached for his father who saw the accident happen and tried to cope with the tragedy. Princeton Regional teachers and staff were called over the weekend to prepare for a tough morning, Superintendent Claire Kohn said. The Johnson Park teachers and staff gathered before classes began to talk about George and how to react. "George is remembered as a very sweet child," said Claire Kohn, superintendent of Princeton Regional School District. "He was very popular among his classmates. He was quiet but held in high regard by the adults in the school, particularly his teachers, and by his classmates." There were counselors available in Johnson Park school, she said. In Montgomery, Spirit Day has been a popular event for almost 20 years, Committeeman Don Matthews said. That means thousands of kids were decorating the floats, watching the parade or playing in soccer games, he said. When the marching band came through and the parade stopped, the word spread quickly though the township and the normally joyous fall day turned somber, he said. "All of a sudden the mood changed completely, everybody just packed up and left," he said. Because so many students might have seen the accident and have been taught by the popular Montgomery Middle School social studies teacher, township schools also had counselors available, said Jack Rotter, a Montgomery schools spokesman. There will be a memorial service at 10 a.m. Saturday at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton, 50 Cherry Hill Road, Princeton, said George's aunt, Lucy Gatchell. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to "George's scholarship fund for neighborhood children" at the Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon St., Princeton, NJ 08542.
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Record Number: brg2001103111130759