BEND, Ore. - Football practice at Bend Senior High School is in full swing, but players are weighed down by the tragedy of the loss of former teammate Daniel Bazan, who died early Saturday morning in a crash near the school.
The 18-year-old's car veered off the side of the road and struck a tree on Northeast Ninth Street early Saturday. He was pronounced dead at the crash scene, which is now filled with flowers and mementos from family and friends.
His passenger, 19 year-old Jason Soto, was taken to St. Charles Bend with life-threatening injuries and remained in critical condition Monday afternoon, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
Bazan wrestled, played football and rugby for Bend High. His former classmates said they remember him as a good teammate and friend.
"It's devastating, because I've known him for so long," former teammate Haakon Kjellesvik said Monday. "I've spent countless hours with him."
"He had like an aura about him," said Patrick Davis, another teammate. "Just him around us made everyone else happy."
"He was one of the first upperclassmen to really say hi to me, to talk to me, help me learn some stuff," former wrestling teammate Daniel Winters said. "even though we were in different weight classes."
The investigation into the crash is ongoing, though police say speed was a factor.
Those now in mourning hope this can be an opportunity to learn and make changes for the better .
"I think as a community we can do a lot better at writing down a protocol or something the kids can know that's a common language," said Bazan's school mentor Jen Kjellesvik.
But ultimately, it might have to come down to peers providing leadership.
"We have to be there for each other, so I think it should be more relying on our brothers," Davis said. "If we know people are going to do something that they shouldn't, we need to say so and tell them to stop."