Athlete killed days before football playoffs

Students said the hallways remained eerily quiet Thursday at Springboro High School as friends and classmates tried to comprehend the death of a football player at the school.

Teammates hugged each other and students cried in crowded hallways as they mourned the death of Shaun A. Frechette, 17, who was killed early Thursday in single-car wreck before school started. The teen’s death came just two days before his team is scheduled to play in the first round of the state football playoffs.

Frechette, a junior lineman on the undefeated Springboro team, died after his northbound car struck a utility pole on Ohio 741 about 6:20 a.m., just north of Pekin Road and a few miles south of Springboro High School.

Police said Frechette apparently battled for 700 feet to regain control of the 2005 Crown Victoria he was driving to school. The car first veered gradually off the east side of the road into a ditch, then briefly back on, before driving into a pole at a curve in the road, police said.

“He was already in trouble when he got to the curve,” Clearcreek Twp. Police Chief John Terrill said. “We’re still scratching our heads about the cause.”

Frechette is the 19th victim and fifth teen to die in 17 fatal crashes this year in Warren County, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol. There have been 78 teenagers killed on Ohio roadways this year, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

At school, Frechette’s teammates, along with other classmates, gathered in the library early in the morning with school officials and counselors to grieve the loss. The team will host a first-round playoff game Saturday against Lakota East High School.

“He’ll definitely be missed by everybody here,” said senior lineman Sean Welsh, adding the team was weighing how to memorialize Frechette, a back-up on the varsity.

Coach Ryan Wilhite said he would meet with the team captains on whether to postpone the play-off game.

“We’re going to get our heads together on that. Probably these guys are all going to want to play on Saturday and they’re going to want to play for him,” Wilhite said.

“When you sit down and you’re in that world that we’re in right now, and you’re thinking that you want everything to go perfectly through the week,” Wilhite added, noting severe weather problems related to Superstorm Sandy. “When something like this happens, there’s just no way to plan for that. It’s something that happens suddenly. Life becomes more important than any other thing that’s going on.”

School officials put the district’s crisis plan into action after being contacted by authorities.

“Our students are our absolute first and only priority. The district’s crisis plan has been activated, our counseling staff has been notified and our school staff stands ready to support the family and friends of this young man,” Superintendent Todd Petrey said in a press release.

The 5 foot-9-inch, 240-pound Frechette lived nearby, according to authorities.

A make-shift memorial was set up at the site of the accident and students gathered at it when school let out and left flowers.

His death prompted comments on Twitter.

“R.I.P. Shaun Frechette, we love you and it was a pleasure to play next to you on the o-line. We’ll never forget you,” sophomore lineman Andrew Weber said on Twitter.

Police said the crash was discovered by a Clearcreek Twp. officer on routine patrol at the end of his shift. Despite efforts to revive him, Frechette was pronounced dead at the scene. It was still dark and roads were slick, but investigators were unsure what caused the crash.

The road climbs as it heads north from Red Lion to Springboro, before turning left where Frechette crashed.

“It’s an awkward bend in there,” Terrill said.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call (937) 748-1267.

Staff writer Kelli Wynn contributed to this report.

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