Summit County Coroner’s Office identifies Illinois teenagers killed in sledding accident Sunday at Copper Mountain Resort
Local reports indicate the two boys were accomplished athletes and teammates on the football and basketball teams at Prairie Central High School in Illlinois.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the correct spelling of Dylan Bazzell’s last name.
The Summit County Coroner’s Office has identified the two spring vacationers from Illinois who died in a sledding accident at Copper Mountain Resort on Sunday night.
Drew Fehr, 17, and Dylan Bazzell, 18, both of Fairbury, Illinois, were seniors at Prairie Central High School and teammates on the high school basketball and football teams, according to David Rossi, a county spokesperson.
Students, staff, counselors, coaches and friends of the two boys, gathered Monday at the First Baptist Church in Fairbury to grieve together, according to reports from the Pontiac Daily Leader.
Prairie Central School District Superintendent Paula Crane remembered the two boys as “great students, talented athletes, and most importantly amazing people,” in an email to the Summit Daily News.
“They were role models for all who knew them, especially our young athletes throughout the district,” Crane said. “The Prairie Central Community continues to mourn their loss and will support their families, our staff members and our students through the grieving process.”
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene of the sledding accident around 8:35 p.m. on Sunday. The two boys reportedly rode tandem down the halfpipe at Copper Mountain before launching off a large snowbank at the bottom and landing on hard ice, causing blunt force trauma, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
A witness called 911 immediately and emergency medical services were quick to treat the boys, Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said, but they could not be revived and were pronounced dead at the scene. FitzSimons said that parents had not traveled with the boys to the ski resort and were not present at the time of the accident. The Summit County Coroner’s Office has taken over the investigation into the cause and manner of death.
Sledding at Copper Mountain is prohibited everywhere except in the designated sledding zone at the Green Acres Snow Play Area from 9 a.m. until sunset, according to Loryn Roberson, a spokesperson for the ski area. The lack of basic safety features on most sleds, including the ability to brake, steer or stop make them unsafe for use on ski slopes, according to Roberson.
Ski lifts were closed at the time of the incident. Located close to the bottom of the slope near Center Village, the Superpipe — where the incident occurred — was closed and roped off at the time, she said.
The two teenagers both had parents who are teachers at Prairie Central High School, according to local news reports, and Bazzell is the son of the high school basketball coach.
Bazzell had been named to The Associated Press first-team all-state basketball squad earlier in March after helping lead the high school team to a 31-3 record, an Illini Prairie Conference championship, a regional title and the No. 1 ranking in Class 2A, the Pontiac Daily Leader reported. He also played football for the school, serving as a kicker, receiver and defensive back for the Hawks, who finished 11-1 after falling in the Class 3A quarterfinals.
Fehr had been a team captain for the football team and was the leading rusher, scorer and tackler for the Hawks, earning an all-state mention, according to the Daily Leader. He was also a starter on the school’s top-ranked basketball team.
Andrew Quain, who coached Bazzell and Fehr in football, told the Pontiac Daily Leader he was at the church memorial for the boys all day Monday.
“I didn’t want to believe it, I really was not trying to believe it was true,” Quain said. “Then at the church, it was good. There were coaches, teachers, community members, a good handful of students coming and going throughout the day.”
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