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Pasadena student killed on Mount Whitney

August 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
High school officials are remembering a 16-year-old South Pasadena boy who fell to his death on Mount Whitney. He was with a youth group staying at a campground near a Mt. Whitney waterfall when he slipped and fell 50 feet to his death Wednesday. Authorities say 16-year-old John Antonio Chavez of South Pasadena was on a camping trip with 20 other teens on Mt. Whitney two days ago, when he slipped and fell near the top of waterfall. He suffered a massive head injury and died.

Chavez would have been a junior at Maranatha High School in Pasadena. School officials say the star student and football player's sudden death is shocking and heartbreaking.

"He slipped and fell. It was a tragic accident," said Patricia Ostiller, director of development at Maranatha High School. "It's a young life that is lost and his presence is going to be deeply missed here on campus. As a school, even though we're on summer vacation, we've implemented our crisis-management plan, so we've got counselors here on staff; we want to provide support to our students and families; we want to provide support to the Chavez family."

"Fine football player, better kid, just a phenomenal kid, well-liked by everybody, and he'll definitely be missed," said Brian Detlaan, Maranatha High School athletic director.

Maranatha High School athletic officials say this football season would have been John Chavez's year to shine. They say he was going to be one of the starting linebackers on defense. They say this kid had that rare gift of putting fear in the hearts of offenses.

"It's a tragic loss. Our football team is coming together. We have a unique community within our football program that stays the night every night next week during camp, and it will be a time for them to process their loss," said Detlaan.

Athletic officials say this tragedy has pulled the football team even closer together with one purpose in mind: To play each game harder than they ever have this season in honor of their fallen teammate.

 

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