The Bradley Farms swim team was in need of some spirit. So David Chu came up with the idea of creating "Wave Man" but didn't want anyone to know it was his idea, so he had his friend Jacob Wilens float the idea past their fellow cohorts and Herndon neighbors, Meagan Mihalko and Jason Philpott, both also swim team members.
Jacob, Meagan and Jason went out and bought a blow-up doll and set aside a night to create Wave Man at Meagan's house. On the way, Jacob got into a car accident. He parked his car and walked the rest of the way to Meagan's.
"Jacob always had a smile, even when he got in the accident. I thought he was kidding," said Jason, a junior at Oakton High School.
It was another car accident that would cost Jacob, 16, a senior, and David, 17, a junior, both at Oakton High School, their lives Tuesday, Sept. 3, as they drove home in Jacob's car after the first day of school.
"If I contrast yesterday with today, there's a numbness," said Oakton principal Charles Ostlund on Wednesday.
According to police, Dwayne Mongold, 34, of Petersburg, W.Va., was driving a dump truck and hauling a trailer when he hit Wilens' car from behind last Tuesday. The impact pushed the car, which was stopped for a red light, into the intersection of Lee Highway and Alder Woods, where it hit another car. Chu was pronounced dead at the scene. Wilens was medevac’d to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he later died. Both boys were wearing seat belts.
Mongold, who police determined fell asleep, was charged with reckless driving and faces a $2,500 fine and/or up to a year in jail if convicted of the traffic violation. The police investigation determined neither speed nor drugs or alcohol was a factor in the accident.
THE BOYS were good friends who lived in the same Herndon neighborhood. They both were members of the Oakton varsity swim team, and their circle of friends also tended to be fellow swimmers. Jacob was a member of the school's chorus and the now-defunct boys gymnastics team. David was in the orchestra. In addition, both boys were accomplished academically. This was to be David's second year at Oakton, his family having moved to Fairfax County from Texas the year before.
"Jacob was taking five AP [advanced placement] classes. I don't know how anyone can take any more than that," said Meagan, a senior.
Justin Forsyth, a junior at Oakton, is also from Texas, where he knew David. Justin's family moved to the county shortly after David's and purposely found a house in the same area as the Chu family.
"He had straight A’s 10 years in a row," Justin said. "And an A back there is 90 to 100, but nobody else did it."
MEAGAN HAD MET DAVID when he joined the York Swim Team last year. After practice one day, she offered to give him a ride home and discovered he lived only a few doors down.
"I told him I'd pick him up for school the next day and ended up driving him the rest of the year," Meagan said. "He was really easy to talk to."
Jason met David in orchestra, where they found out they also shared an interest in swimming. The pair soon became friendly rivals.
"We raced in the same heats. It was always a good race," Jason said. "We were always competitive."
David's friends said he didn't talk about school much, despite his academic achievements, and similar to most teen-agers, he like to sleep.
"To most people who don't know David, he was quiet and shy," said junior Alex Kim. "But when he was in my car, he was the loudest one."
JACOB WAS THE TYPE of person who thought of everyone else before himself.
"Jacob worked at Burger King, and one time I took my brother and he was working," Justin said. "Jacob got off work and had lunch with us. He always stops and talks to my mom, even if she is going through the drive-through."
Meagan has known Jacob since elementary school and was also in the chorus with him.
"I had a couple of classes with him last year. I could get online at 2 a.m. to finish homework, and he was there and would help me," Meagan said. "He was just awesome."
Greg York, one of Jacob's swim coaches, said there was a day last year when Jacob was "sick as a dog" and had gone home early from school. Later that night there was a swim meet, and when the team showed up, there was Jacob. He said he wasn't there to swim but was there to cheer the team on. He stayed for the entire event.
"That was classic Jacob," York said.