Shannon Shepherd sat on a curb outside Broad Run High School, looking at an assortment of colored construction paper. Each piece, cut into squares, carried a message to 17-year-old Ryan J. Bickel.
ÒSometimes good people have bad things happen to them. I donÕt understand why,Ó Caitlyn wrote.
Another student, Christina, wrote, ÒRyan, I did not know you very well, but É you made a heavy impression.Ó
Students spent the first day of school Monday dealing with the loss of a peer who would have been a senior this year. Bickel was killed in a bicycle crash last week.
He was riding his mountain bike west on the W & OD Trail near Hamilton, authorities said. About 10 a.m. Friday, he went through a stop sign at the intersection of Ivandale Road and struck the passenger side of a commercial truck, authorities said. Ryan was not wearing a helmet, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The crash was about a half mile from a section of the W & OD Trail, where a Sterling man lost his life in a similar accident two days earlier.
Eugenio Lucini, 57, attempted to cross Route 704 without yielding or stopping, authorities said. His bike collided with a car. Lucini was wearing a bicycle helmet, but died later at Fairfax Inova Hospital.
NINE GRIEF COUNSELORS were on hand as students found ways to come to terms with the tragedy. His best friend, Kevin Yenowine, said many students didnÕt know Ryan well. ÒHe was kind of quiet, but not to me,Ó Yenowine said. ÒI got to know the real Ryan.Ó
Kevin and Ryan became best friends two years ago after finding they had a lot in common. First, they both fell asleep in English class, he said. ÒWe both loved the military, too.Ó
Ryan planned to go to college and become a Navy Seal while Kevin set his sites on the Marine Corps. They spent time going to the movies, either comedies or action packed, and playing video games.
ÒHe was very intelligent, gave 100 percent to everything he did,Ó Kevin said. ÒHe had a great sense of humor, a dry sense of humor.Ó
What would Kevin miss most about his best friend? ÒSo many things,Ó he said. ÒHaving him call at 8 a.m. when he wanted to do something.Ó
Kevin said he might have preferred to sleep in, but Ryan was raring to go.
Corey Lockhart, a percussion instructor and former Broad Run High School student, said Ryan enjoyed late-night video-game parties and swimming pool parties. The last time they were at the pool, Ryan jumped and accidentally kneed Lockhart. The bruise was just beginning to heal, Lockhart said. ÒWe were all being goofy and all.Ó
Jeremy Luna, a junior, said he and Ryan had been attending classes together since elementary school. He described his peer as someone who knew what he wanted to do with his life and worked hard exercising to reach that goal.
Jeremy said he was shocked when he heard about RyanÕs death. ÒThis is the third year in a row that someone passed away at Broad Run, not to mention someone É I considered my friend. IÕm going to miss talking with him.Ó
Shannon said she always talked to Ryan on the school-bus ride home. Ryan read every Tom Clancey book and explained some of the more intricate parts of the plot, she said. ÒHe was so smart.
ÒOf all people, it shouldnÕt have happened to him. He was such a good person. É Maybe thatÕs why God wanted him.Ó
Shannon joined students in writing memories and placing pictures in a book to be presented to RyanÕs family. A poster with pictures featuring a trip Ryan took to Florida hung in the school hallway.
Shannon also cut the construction paper notes and asked people to write personal messages on them. She plans to give them to his parents, Òso they know he was loved by a lot of people.Ó
ÒIt really hit me today,Ó she said, looking down at a pile of books and the notes in her lap. They lived in the same Ashburn neighborhood.
Edward Guillen, a neighbor of the Bickels, said Ryan was the first friend his son made when his family moved to Rainsboro Drive eight years ago. ÒHe was one of the nicest kids you ever want to meet, just terrific. ItÕs a shame, the youngest son starting his senior year,Ó Guillen said.
Ryan was the youngest of three boys.
PATTI PARK, the BickelÕs next door neighbor, said Ryan was a great teen who came from a good family. She remembered an incident when he was 9 years old. Her husband was away and she was shoveling the driveway. Ryan came over and asked if he could help. Together, they cleared all of the snow away.
Her daughter said she recalled Ryan was always walking his dog, Cocoa.
Kevin said he was at football practice when the coach told the players about the crash. He went to the guidance office and called RyanÕs closest friends. ÒWe came to each otherÕs side pretty fast,Ó Kevin said. ÒItÕs tough.Ó
He planned to speak at RyanÕs service Wednesday at the Christ the Redeemer Roman Catholic Church in Sterling. Internment is scheduled for Sept. 7 at Arlington Cemetery. His father is a retired lieutenant commander with the U.S. Navy.
Broad Run Principal Edgar Markley said the military was a big part of RyanÕs life. His brother, Jared, who graduated from Broad Run, is a Marine Corps officer candidate at James Madison. Two cousins also are in the armed services; one of them is in Iraq.
Kevin said he plans to continue on his course to graduate and join the Marines. ÒRyan wouldnÕt want me to change my goals, so IÕll stick to them,Ó he said.
Kevin said he also would be more cautious in whatever he does as a result of losing his friend. He would like to see better signs and marking on the trails to prevent future collisions.
Markley said students have discussed the possibly of addressing the problem. ÒWeÕve talked about concern about that bicycle path. ItÕs crowded, as this county is getting bigger,Ó he said. ÒMaybe there is a need for more rules and safety kinds of things along the path.Ó