"Beloved classmate" mourned in Salem

Nov. 2—An 8-year-old Salem boy who was hit by a car Saturday night has died from his injuries.

John Conway was a "beloved classmate" to his fellow third graders at Fisk Elementary School, said Maura Palmer, Salem's superintendent of schools.

His teacher described him as "a rock star in that classroom," Palmer said. "An 8-year-old boy with a very positive outlook."

"Always a smile on his face."

The child was struck by a vehicle near 310 Main St. shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday and was critically injured. He was treated at Lawrence (Mass.) General Hospital before being taken by helicopter to Mass General Hospital in Boston with life-threatening injuries, according to Salem fire department.

Counselors were made available at all schools in the district on Wednesday, Palmer said, as news of the boy's death spread. John had been a student in Salem since preschool.

"It affects the entire community," she said.

One little girl brought a vase filled with flowers to place on the boy's desk Wednesday morning, Palmer said.

School officials have been in touch with the boy's mother to offer support, Palmer said. "Everybody is asking 'what can we do?'" she said. "Once we have a good sense of what her needs are and how best to honor John, we'll move in that direction."

Palmer sent out a letter to parents about the tragedy Tuesday night, urging them to encourage children to talk about what happened.

"Listen to what they say. Validate their feelings," Palmer said. "Allow them to talk and answer their questions to the best of your abilities."

"We all feel like we want to hug our loved ones a little tighter when something like this occurs," she said. "I think it's really important for all adults who have any kind of connection with a child to just be there for them."