Monday, April 23, 2007

A terrible reminder

Reading the news of the car crash that claimed the lives of four teenagers this weekend brought a knot to the pit of my stomach. The story was eerily similar to the deaths of the SLA students last January. There were no drugs or alcohol involved, the crash was within a mile of the driver's home, the students killed were all athletes, and just one survived.
Butcher was killed Friday when the driver of the 2007 Toyota Scion, 17-year-old Nathan Plaza of Leicester, slammed into a tree. Also killed were Bryan Rossik , 17, of Leicester, and Julianne "Julie" Caron , 18, of North Brookfield.

The fifth person, Lauren Bennett , 17, of North Brookfield, broke her clavicle and was in stable condition yesterday at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, her mother said. Bennett remained sedated yesterday, as doctors continued to monitor her for internal injuries or brain swelling, Paula Bennett said.

I was especially struck by the stories of the North Brookfield students holding vigil with Lauren at UMass Memorial hospital. It reminded me of the scene at the hospital last January 20.

Visitors have streamed to the hospital and sat with Bennett in the intensive care unit, her mother said.

Many of the young visitors were friends of the victims and were particularly close to Caron, whose family declined to comment yesterday.

The visitors have taken comfort in keeping vigil over Bennett, her mother said.

"They needed to see the one that survived," Bennett said, "and tell her she needs to hang on, because Julie's friends need Lauren to help them get through her death."

I "knew" Julie Caron and Lauren Bennett in the sense that we played North Brookfield twice a year during the four years I coached at SLA. I got to see both of them play (usually running circles around and shooting at will over us) quite a bit over those years, and admired the way they played the game.

You just don't think when you shake hands with kids before or after a game that in just a few months you'll be reading their obituary, or praying that they survive their injuries.

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