“It’s heartbreaking,” Edmond community shocked by beloved teacher’s tragic death

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EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) - New details have been released regarding Wednesday’s police chase and crash that claimed two innocent lives.

Officials with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said the pursuit involving a Yale police officer reached speeds over 100 miles per hour. The crash happened along Hwy 51 near Yale when Tommy McClendon, Jr. failed to yield at a stop sign and hit a car.

Authorities say a man and 28-year-old Shelayna Knott, who were in the vehicle that was hit by McClendon, were killed in the crash.

The news came as a shock to members of the Edmond community who know Knott as a beloved teacher at Ida Freeman Elementary School.

The people behind the doors of Ida Freeman know her as Mrs. Knott, leaving parents and teachers to have some difficult conversations with their kids.

“It was hard telling them someone had passed at their school. The first conversation was, ‘Do you know who this is?’ Before I even knew what happened,” said Sasha Hayes, a parent of Ida Freeman students.

Knott was in the car with three other people, 55-year-old Michelle Clary, 77-year-old Floyd Margason, Jr. and a 4-year-old child. Both Knott and Margason were killed instantly when Tommy McClendon, Jr. slammed into their car.

Parents and students were devastated by the news.

“It affects the entire community. Edmond is such a great school district and it has wonderful teachers,” said Hayes. “It’s heartbreaking. You don’t think of this kind of stuff happening.”

Hayes has two children that go to Ida Freeman, including one who is headed into the fourth grade next year.

“Really sad because I really wanted her as a teacher,” said Emerson Terska, Hayes’ daughter. “I’ve heard she was super kind.”

Edmond Public Schools releasing this statement to News 4:

“Shelayna Knott was a dedicated and respected teacher who was elected by her peers as the Ida Freeman 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year. She poured her heart into her profession and spent long hours at school willingly taking on extra duties and responsibilities in service to others. She adored her students and cherished her colleagues. Her unexpected death is deeply felt by all who knew and loved her.”

Hayes said it’s going to be tough for Knott’s students when they head back to school on Monday.

“It’s gonna be heartbreaking. Especially when you find someone that you truly love and respect. And it sounds like everyone really liked her,” Hayes said.

Police have arrested McClendon. They said he appeared to be under the influence of drugs.

No word on what charges he could be facing.

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