Colby Campbell, 19, needed to get back to Frostburg University. It was Sunday and fall break had ended, but Campbell was left without a way back after his ride fell through. In a pinch, Campbell knew he could count on his longtime friend, Shay Allen.
ÒShay dropped everything he was doing and drove me,Ó said Campbell, adding it was 2 and 1/2 hours each way.
ÒThatÕs how Shay was Ñ the kind of guy whoÕd do anything for you,Ó said Campbell.
POPULAR, FRIENDLY, and less than a year out of high school, Allen was killed Tuesday, May 30, when his ATV four-wheeler ran into a hanging metal cable wire in Loudoun County, according to authorities. Authorities planned to transport Allen to a hospital by helicopter, but he went into cardiac arrest, said Deputy Chief Howard Dawley of Loudoun County Fire and Rescue. ÒWe transported him by ground because managing an unstable patient or someone who is in [cardiac] arrest is difficult in the air,Ó said Dawley. ÒThe best opportunity for survival is ground transportation.Ó
Allen, a Reston resident and Herndon High School graduate, was pronounced dead at the hospital, said Dawley. He was 19 years old, a month before his 20th birthday.
The 7:30 p.m. accident occurred near Lockridge Road and Prentice Drive, said Dawley.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) first began investigating the accident, thinking the accident was on its property. MWAA will transfer the case to the Loudoun SheriffÕs Office. ÒAfter beginning the initial investigation, we realized the accident was on private property not airport property,Ó said Courtney Prebich, media relations manager at MWAA.
Since 1982, there have been more than 7,500 ATV-related deaths, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In 2004, ATVs caused more than 135,000 emergency-room-treated injuries.
Roughly half of the 90 ATV-related deaths in Virginia since 1982 have occurred in the last three years.
DOZENS OF FRIENDS and family members have been visiting Allen's parents, Josh and Darcel Allen, this past week. While offering condolences, many of his friends have stopped in to tell Josh and Darcel Allen how much Shay meant to them.
ÒThe outpouring has been unbelievable,Ó said Josh Allen.
Darcel Allen said Shay always looked after his two brothers, Ty, 17, a junior at Herndon, and Cain, 8.
But friends were also like family to Shay Allen, who was quoted in the yearbook as saying, ÒMake sure you stay close to your buds.Ó
ÒHe loved the people around him,Ó said Josh Allen. His mother said that Shay often asked if he could have friends over. ÒHaving friends over always turned into 50 people in the backyard,Ó said Darcel Allen. ÒHe touched so many people,Ó said Darcel Allen, speaking in tears.
Best friends since second grade, Sam Turbin said Shay Allen made him the person he is today. ÒHe taught me so much about being a better person. He was selfless,Ó said Turbin.
Friends said Allen and Turbin were inseparable. Turbin would have been with Allen the day he died if it hadnÕt been for a class he had that night.
Turbin first heard about the accident after receiving a call during his class. ÒI had to call [ShayÕs] parents,Ó said Turbin. It wasnÕt until later that he found out Allen had died.
THE NIGHT of his death, a group of seniors at Herndon High School repainted the painted rock in front of the school, said Principal Francis Ivey. ÒIn memory of Shay,Ó says the rock. Several students have placed flowers around the rock, said Ivey.
ÒI was in the parking lot of On the Border [restaurant],Ó said Matt Schmidt, one of AllenÕs close friends, recalling how he got the news. Schmidt was with three more of AllenÕs friends. ÒWe heard he was in stable condition and that they were medivacing him.Ó
Schmidt and the other friends were getting ready to go to the hospital when they received another call. ÒSam called and said he didnÕt make it,Ó said Schmidt, his voice cracking. ÒWe didnÕt want to believe it,Ó said Schmidt. ÒWe all just lost it.Ó
ÒItÕs sad to see someone go at such a young age. ItÕs just really sad,Ó said Campbell. ÒItÕs not right.Ó
Within a few hours about 80 friends gathered at a friendÕs house. ÒIÕve never seen so many people come together so fast,Ó said Al Temple, a friend and classmate, adding that one of AllenÕs friends drove from Philadelphia.
ÒEveryone wanted to be together,Ó said Laura Saville, another friend.
WHAT SET ALLEN apart, said friends, was his sense of humor. ÒHe was always trying to make someone laugh,Ó said Trey Small, a close friend who also graduated in the Class of 2005.
Saville said she came home from beach week last summer after graduation with a bunch of photos of Allen. HeÕd always jump into pictures, trying to be funny. ÒSo, in all my pictures you can see Shay in the corner,Ó said Saville.
While spending time with friends was important to Allen, he had plans to get his real-estate license after college. He attended Northern Virginia Community College full time and planned to transfer after a year or two.
ÒHe would have been great in sales,Ó said Tim Redmond, who graduated from Herndon with Allen. A teacher once told ShayÕs mother that he could sell ice to an Eskimo.
ÒHe was a very popular student. He was well-liked, responsible and spirited,Ó said Ivey, who said she was deeply saddened to hear about his death. ÒHe really enjoyed life and lived it to the fullest. WeÕre all very heartbroken.Ó
ALLEN ALSO loved football. ÒHe was a huge Redskins fan,Ó said Campbell. Allen, who played football in high school, had started coaching flag football in Loudoun County. He was a black belt in karate.
He received the ATV as a graduation present. ÒHe loved riding it,Ó said Darcel Allen.
For Campbell and the rest of the HerndonÕs Class of 2005, Allen is the second person to die in an ATV accident.
While visiting family in Arizona, Donny Soberdash died in an ATV accident at 15 before his sophomore year. ÒItÕs all too familiar,Ó said Campbell. ÒI would never touch one of those machines.Ó
ALLENÕS MOTHER SAID the past week has been easier when sheÕs around family and his friends, but she still wakes up in the morning crying. ÒWe find comfort knowing Shay is now with his grandfather, who he was so close to,Ó said Darcel Allen.
SheÕs trying to be strong for the family, especially Cain, AllenÕs youngest brother who turned 8 two days after his brother's death.
She said sometimes Cain will say things like, ÒShay is sitting right next to me,Ó or ÒHeÕs right here.Ó
ÒAnd you wonder if he knows something you donÕt,Ó said Darcel Allen.
<1b>Ñ Reporter Erika Jacobson contributed to this article.