Students at Stoughton High School are resuming regular classes Monday, but it will not be a normal day for the teens or their teachers.
Four seats will remain empty — four lockers closed — after a crash on Saturday in East Bridgewater claimed the lives of four students from the high school. A fifth student remains hospitalized.
Authorities say the five teens were traveling in one car when it crashed into a tree at 558 West Street/Route 106 in East Bridgewater around 4 p.m.
The Plymouth District Attorney’s office said Christopher Desir, 17, of Brockton, Eryck Sarblah, 17, of Stoughton, and Nick Joyce, 16, of Stoughton, were all pronounced dead at the scene. David Bell, 17, of Stoughton, was transported to Brockton Hospital where he died.
These are the four Stoughton High School teens killed in an East Bridgewater crash yesterday. From left to right: Christopher Desir, Nick Joyce, David Bell and Eric Sarblah. @enterprisenews @jdpelletier_ENT @PhotogMarc_ent pic.twitter.com/um27YGLsAE
— Sara Cline (@saracline_ENT) May 20, 2018
The 17-year-old driver of the car was initially taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton, but he is now being treated at Boston Medical Center, according to authorities. He is not being identified by the school or law enforcement.
First responders had to use multiple sets of Jaws of Life tools to free the teens from the wrecked car, The Brockton Enterprise reports.
The cause of the crash is under investigation by state police and the DA’s office.
“Investigators are looking at all factors in the crash, including weather and speed,” the DA’s office said.
A classmate of the teens told the Enterprise that the five students were on their way back from playing paintball in Bridgewater when the crash occurred.
Stoughton School Superintendent Marguerite Rizzi said at a Sunday press conference the deaths of the four students — three juniors and a sophomore — will impact the entire school, calling the tragedy the “worst nightmare of any school administrator.”
“This is a devastating occasion for any community, any school,” she said.
The high school opened Sunday for students, teachers, and families to gather and grieve, and a prayer service was held at Grace Church in Avon for the community on Sunday evening.
Rizzi said in a statement that grief counselors and professionals would be on hand for anyone in need.
“To our students, I will say this: This is a shock and a trauma for our entire community,” she said. “It will not make sense because it does not make sense. For students, especially those who know the classmates involved in the crash, you will likely feel confused, angry, and sad, and sometimes all at the same time. You are not alone in your grief and you should not feel alone. Know that the adults in our community will feel the same way.”
Stoughton Police Chief Donna McNamara called the loss of the four teens “crippling.”
“Young men with great promise and bright futures ahead of them,” she said in a statement. “Tragedies are never easy, but when it involves a young person it tears at the fabric of our community. This loss is simply unfathomable.”
A second service is planned Monday at St. James Church in Stoughton, according to the district.
There will be a service for students and the community to get together as we continue to mourn the loss we have all felt.
Join us at St. James Church on Page Street in Stoughton on Monday, May 21, 2018 at 6:30pm.
— Stoughton Schools (@StoughtonPS) May 20, 2018
Here’s what we know about the students who were killed and how the Stoughton community is remembering them.
The 17-year-old Brockton teen was born in the U.S. but spent part of his childhood in Haiti, where his family is from, The Boston Globe reports. Desir was respectful and acted as a big brother for a younger cousin, family members told the Globe. He moved to Massachusetts to live with his mother after surviving the 2010 earthquake.
“He left, I’m not going to see him anymore,” the boy’s father, Prosper Beaubrun, told the newspaper.
According to the Enterprise, Desir had only recently transferred to Stoughton High School after attending Brockton schools.
Desir’s mother told NBCBoston she wasn’t ready to talk about her son.
“We just hoped for a miracle,” his aunt, Guerdie Georges, told the Globe. “But we know for sure he is gone.”
Eryck Sarblah’s father, also named Eric Sarblah, told the Globe that his son was responsible and a member of the high school track team.
“He was a good kid,” Sarblah said of his 17-year-old son.
He told the newspaper that the boys in the car were close friends, part of a close-knit athletic program at the high school.
Thank you to all that have reached out offering support during this difficult time. I am so moved by the outpouring of love and heartbroken over what has happened. Thoughts & well wishes to the families and friends grieving the loss of great young men. Us We Together Forever.
— Stoughton Athletics (@Stoughton_AD) May 20, 2018
“[Eryck] was a very kind person, disciplined, and he will be missed,” the teen’s uncle, Columbus Okai, told NBCBoston.
The teen was interested in photography and entered a photo into the Hub Edge Realty Autumn 2016 Stoughton Photo Contest, according to the Globe.
“The photo shows fantastic composition,” the realty site said of the photo, titled “Tree Tops.” “Eryck decided to look up and that’s something many amateur and professional photographers alike often forget to do.
A teammate of Joyce and Bell’s told the Globe he’d also spent time with both Sarblah and Desir in school.
“All of them were a good time,” Colin Sanda, 17, told the newspaper.
Mark Walker, Joyce’s uncle, told Boston25 the family is still in shock.
“We still can’t believe that this happened,” he said. “Those kids, I mean, I think all of them were 17 or younger. I mean, to lose your life when it’s just beginning? I can’t even explain how hurt we are.”
Stoughton High football coach Greg Burke told the Boston Herald that the 16-year-old was in line to be a starting wide receiver on his team next season.
“I just can’t believe something like this happened,” he told the newspaper. “It’s just a real shame. David and Nick were happy-go-lucky kids, kids everyone liked.”
Joyce was also a member of the track team, according to the school.
Teammates described the 16-year-old as quiet, but an intense and speedy sprinter, according to the Enterprise.
Stoughton senior Anthony Burke, who played football with Joyce, called the 16-year-old his “little brother” who was most excited for the track meet the school was set to compete in Sunday at Canton High School.
“He’s supposed to be here today,” Burke told the Enterprise. “He wanted to be here so bad.”
In addition to athletics, Joyce was also interested in graphic design, according to NBCBoston.
“A part of me left with them,” Stoughton senior Matt Hadley, a football teammate of Bell and Joyce’s, told the Enterprise. “It’s surreal — it doesn’t feel real.”
The 17-year-old from Stoughton was also on the track and football teams. His football coach told the Herald that Bell was a running back and that the teen was constantly talking with Joyce about preparing for the 2018 season.
“This late in the school year with the seniors ready to graduate, the juniors begin to realize that this is their football team, their last time around,” Burke told the newspaper. “That was the case with them. They were looking forward to their senior seasons.”
Bell performed well at a recent college combine at Gillette Stadium, and the young player had a bright future, according to the Herald.
“I really think he was ready to come into his own as a football player,” Burke told the newspaper. “This whole thing is just a shame.”
Bell’s mother, Solange Bell, told the Globe that the kids in the athletic community were all close and that her son “was the glue.”
“He loved his teammates and his friends like they were family,” she said. “He was full of life.”
She said Sunday that grieving friends and classmates had stopped by her home and a few had asked to touch her son’s T-shirts in order to remember him.
Solange Bell is the grieving mother of David Bell, 1 of the 4 teenage boys from #Stoughton High School killed Saturday in a car crash in East Bridgewater. Here’s part of our interview. It’s clear how much her son & his friends were loved. #wcvb pic.twitter.com/cAaQ10z1WH
— Todd Kazakiewich (@ToddKazakiewich) May 21, 2018
Bell said her 17-year-old son, who grew up in Stoughton and was also on the high school’s basketball football team, was already being courted by several universities.
Bell’s girlfriend of four years, Amanda Barucci, told Patch Sunday that the teen is being remembered as being the “class clown” with an outgoing personality.
“He was amazing,” she said. “He always put a smile on someone’s face.”
Teammates described Bell to the Enterprise as high-energy.
“I had class with David — he’d walk in every day and do some crazy dance moves,” Burke, a senior, told the newspaper. “David was a great person. He was going to do big things in life. I miss him to death.”