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Well-known musician hospitalized in downtown Wichita crash that killed her mother, niece

Jenny Wood jams against bullying

(FILE VIDEO -- 2017) Local musician Jenny Wood sings her new song against bullying, "Don't Let Them Get In Your Head," with elementary students from the Wichita area.
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(FILE VIDEO -- 2017) Local musician Jenny Wood sings her new song against bullying, "Don't Let Them Get In Your Head," with elementary students from the Wichita area.

Wichita’s music community is rallying around Jenny Wood, who was hospitalized with critical injuries after a tragic crash in downtown Wichita Sunday that killed her mother and niece.

Wood, 36, was a passenger in a Toyota Camry driven by her mother, 70-year-old Maria Wood. Twelve-year-old Rosemary McElroy was in the back seat.

A BMW SUV that had been reported stolen was fleeing from Wichita police and T-boned the Camry at Douglas and Broadway at 1:54 p.m. Sunday, according to a Kansas Highway Patrol crash report.

Maria Wood and Rosemary “Rosie” McElroy were killed, and Jenny Wood was taken to Ascension Via Christi St. Francis with critical injuries, police said Sunday.

McElroy was a student at Robinson Middle School, a USD 259 spokeswoman confirmed. Grief counselors were being made available at Robinson and East High School, where Rosie’s sister is a senior, according to public Facebook posts.

East High School was hosting its IB Senior Recognition ceremony at 2 p.m. Sunday.

On Monday, yellow ribbons hung from the trees at Robinson Middle School. People at the school are planning to wear yellow on Tuesday to honor Rosie.

Amy Champlin, Robinson’s principal, said in an email that “staff and students are all grieving the sudden and tragic loss.”

“Rosie was a vivacious, smart, and talented student who will be dearly missed by her friends and teachers at Robinson,” she wrote. “Students describe Rosie as the one who they could all go to in a time of need. In fact, if she were here today, they said she would be the one ready with the Kleenex.

“Her smile and positivity were infectious.”

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Yellow ribbons hang from a tree at Robinson Middle School on Monday. Rosemary “Rosie” McElroy, a student at the school, was killed in a car crash in downtown Wichita on Sunday. Jaime Green The Wichita Eagle

Sunday evening into Monday, countless Facebook friends were sending their love and support to Jenny Wood, who is widely known in Wichita as a performer who loves working with kids.

Jenny Wood, who has performed on the same bill as artists like Gene Simmons and Def Leppard, is well-loved in Wichita and sings with local bands Team Tremolo and Jenny Wood & The Watchers, among others.

A Wichita native, she studied music theater at Wichita State University for 2 1/2 years before leaving to pursue a singing gig in Los Angeles. Her career then took her to Nashville.

She moved back to Wichita in 2010 to be closer to her nieces and nephews, she told The Eagle in 2017.

Around noon Monday, she had been “taken off breathing assistance and is breathing on her own,” according to friends posting public Facebook updates on her behalf.

If you’d like to help financially, fundraisers have been set up for funeral and medical expenses (on Facebook and GoFundMe).

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Matt Riedl covers arts and entertainment news for the Wichita Eagle and has done so since 2015. He maintains the Keeper of the Plans blog on Facebook, dedicated to keeping Wichitans abreast of all things fun.
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