SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Monday became a day of mourning for the sixth grade class at Schalmont Middle School.
Students learned through the day that twin classmates Abigail and Chloe Batchler of Schenectady, both 11, were hospitalized Sunday night in the same I-88 crash that killed their parents, Tim and Stephanie Batchler. An email and letter were sent home to parents Monday evening.
The Sunday crash came when police say a 2007 Chevrolet Malibu, traveling westbound, crossed a wide earthen median near Princetown and struck a 2017 Chevrolet Equinox head-on. The Batchler family was inside the Equinox, with Tim and Stephanie in the front seat.
Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Abigail and Chloe were taken to Albany Medical Center with serious injuries, along with their brother Jack, 19. The three are now listed in "fair condition" according to Albany Medical Center.
The school district confirmed that Jack Batchler is a former football player and graduate of Schalmont High School.
Schalmont Assistant Principal Scott Ziomek had counselors and a crisis team on hand through Monday's school day, as students came to grips with the news.
"This was exceptionally challenging [for students and staff]," Ziomek explained. "We constantly say we're a 'Schalmont family.' When we have the loss of one of our families, or someone close to us ... that's how we identify that we have a crisis."
Tim and Stephanie Batchler were both military veterans, and former officers in the United States Navy's cryptology unit. Most recently, Stephanie Batchler was working as a nurse at Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hosptial in Schenectady. In a statement, the hospital called her "a skilled and compassionate nurse, beloved by both her colleagues and her patients." The hospital said its personnel were "heartbroken" by the news of Batchler's sudden death.
During the morning on Monday, the New York State Police announced that a third person involved in the crash had died: Stephen Cipriano, 28 of Rotterdam. Cipriano was driving the Malibu that crossed the median and struck the Batchlers' vehicle.
Police and court clerks in Rotterdam confirmed Monday that Cipriano admitted to driving while intoxicated in 2015, and had his driver's license revoked for six months. He was also required to install an ignition interlock device on his car.
Police have not said whether drugs or alcohol were factors in Sunday's crash. Troopers are still investigating an official cause.
On Monday, Schalmont's head football coach, Joe Whipple, created a GoFundMe page to support the surviving family. By 6 p.m. Monday evening, the fund had doubled its $10,000 goal and was still accumulating donations.