Two Illinois high school athletes were tragically killed after they broke into a Colorado snowboarding area and sledded down a halfpipe. Dylan Bazzell and Drew Fehr rode together down the halfpipe at Copper Mountain Ski Resort at around 8.35 pm on Sunday, authorities said on Monday.
They were going in tandem down a half-pipe when their sled launched off a large snowbank, the Summit County Sheriff's Office said on Monday. Bazzell and Fehr fell hard on the ice below, causing blunt force trauma, and died on the scene. The Summit County Coroner's Office has now launched an investigation into the deaths of both boys.
Unfortunate and Tragic Death
The Summit County Sheriff's Office deputies arrived on the scene right away and attempted CPR on the two top athletes, but they were declared dead at the scene. Bazzell and Fehr were reportedly sledding down the pipes after the resort shut down its ski area after sunset on Sunday, which was around 7.12 pm.
The halfpipe was roped off at the time. The death of the youngsters is currently being investigated by the Summit County Coroner's Office.
"The two individuals came down hard on the hard ice below, causing blunt force trauma," the statement read.
Authorities initially did not release the names of the victims, who they said were aged 17 and 18.
However, the victims were identified as Bazzell and Fehr by the Prairie Central school district in Fairbury, Illinois, in a letter to the locals on Monday. They said that the boys were taking spring break trips to the Colorado resort.
Copper Mountain's president and general manager Dustin Lyman said: "The entire team at Copper Mountain is deeply saddened by this tragic incident.
"Our most sincere condolences go out to the affected families and friends. We are also thankful to our local emergency responders for their quick response and the medical assistance provided."
The resort said in a statement to CBS Colorado that keeping guests safe is their first priority and urges them to heed posted signs and warnings and refrain from entering closed trails and areas.
Tributes Pour In
Tributes remembered both Bazzell and Fehr as star athletes. School chief Paula Crane issued a statement informing the public that the district is " committed to doing everything we can to help our students and staff with the grieving and healing process."
She mentioned how the school district collaborated with the First Baptist Church of Fairbury to provide students with counseling, prayer sessions, and a space to grieve.
"We could all only hope to impact our community the way that Dylan and Drew did," Jeremy Stoller, a community member wrote on Facebook
"Through their sports career and especially this senior year they brought back the glory days of Prairie Central Football and Basketball," he continued.
"I can't remember how many times when I was younger I would pretend to be Gary Tidwell or Darin Bazzell while shooting hoops on my driveway. Now our kids are shooting hoops pretending to be Dylan and Drew."
According to a Pontiac Daily Leader report, Bazzell, the son of boys' basketball coach and former all-star Darin Bazzell, was chosen for the Associated Press' first-team all-state basketball team shortly before his death.
Fehr is the son of Brian and Susan Fehr. Lynette, Susan, and Darin all work as teachers at the Prairie Central School District in Illinois. Darin coached high school basketball.
The two teenagers were remembered by their friends and family as top athletes with positive attitudes. This past year, Bazzell played both basketball and football for the school.
He was selected to The Associated Press' first-team all-state basketball team after assisting in the team's 31â3 record, an Illini Prairie Conference championship, regional title, and No. 1 rating in Class 2A.
According to the Pontiac Daily Leader, Bazzell also played football for the Prairie High School Hawks, playing kicker, receiver, and defensive back for the squad that finished 11-1 despite losing in the Class 3A quarterfinal.
The school won the Illini Prairie Conference title and went unblemished during the regular season.
Fehr also participated in basketball and football for the high school. In football, he was the team captain as well as the leading rusher, scorer, and tackler. He was also given an all-state nod.