LAGRANGE TWP. — A 17-year-old Keystone High School student died Friday after his vehicle crashed into two trees on state Route 301.
Nathaniel Barrett, of Wellington, was a junior at Keystone and a beloved member of the school’s football team.
His coach, Don Griswold, mobilized a gathering for students and family at 8 a.m. today at the high school so they could grieve the loss together.
“It’s a bad day,” Griswold said. “We’re just going to get together and be there for one another.”
Trooper Andrew Perez, with the Ohio Highway Patrol’s Elyria post. said Nathaniel was going south on Route 301 near Whitney Road when his Acura SUV went off the left side of the road and struck a tree. Perez said road conditions and unsafe speed contributed to the crash.
Perez said Nathaniel had to be extracted from the car and was taken to University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center and then MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, where he died.
“We have a small school, and everybody kind of knows everybody,” Griswold said. “Nate is going to be missed. No doubt about that.”
Nathaniel played running back and strong safety on the varsity football team.
Griswold said he last saw Nathaniel on Friday morning for a team meeting.
“My heart breaks for his family. My heart breaks for his teammates,” he said. “There’s a very good chance that most of our students interacted with him at some point during the day. It’s very tough.”
Griswold described Nathaniel as an “American kid” who “loved his teammates and was full of life and had dreams and aspirations like all kids.”
“He was a very typical kid in small-town America,” Griswold said. “He loved just being a teenager in the purest sense. He loved just being a kid.”
After he found out about the death, Griswold tweeted “Let’s get together tomorrow morning and grieve together.”
“My heart immediately went to the players,” he explained. “They’re a tight-knit group, and they’re hurting.
“We’re going to grieve together because that’s what we do,” he continued. “We’re going to pray together. We’re going to hug each other and tell each other that we love one another. We’re going to work through this. It’s just incredibly sad.”