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Students killed in collision were friends, athletes, parents' joy

October 21, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Two Cumberland Valley Christian School students who were killed Friday afternoon in a two-vehicle accident were longtime friends with many shared interests, according to family members.

"They were first of all super young men from good families and good athletes," Principal Carl McKee said of Ethan S. Gunnell and Timothy C. Madeiros Jr., both 15, who died as a result of the 5:04 p.m. collision between the 2006 Toyota Corolla in which they were passengers and a 2004 Toyota Tundra pickup truck.

Madeiros, of 97 Quigley Road in Newburg, Pa., Gunnell, of 6585 Anthony Highway in Waynesboro, Pa., and three other boys in the car all were members of the school's high school soccer team, the Blazers, McKee said. They were returning from soccer practice when the crash occurred, he said.

"We were very blessed to have him for 15 1/2 years," Timothy Madeiros said of his son. "He was just a great teenager who had the entire span of his life ahead of him, and the Lord called his number and we're at peace with that."

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"He was a bright light. Just a joy to be around," Kathleen Gunnell said of her son. "That's more important than anything."

Gunnell and Madeiros were friends from grade school, the parents said. Both played soccer and basketball and enjoyed riding dirt bikes, Madeiros said. Kathleen Gunnell said her son also played baseball and enjoyed hunting with his father and older brothers.

"Soccer was his love, and this season he had battled back from a bad tractor accident where he had broken his ankle and foot," Kathleen Gunnell said.

Ethan worked with his father, Austin, at Antietam Ironworks in McConnellsburg, Pa., where he was learning welding and blacksmithing, she said.

"He loved life, he loved his Lord and he loved his family," Timothy Madeiros said of his son. "He was an excellent student. Top of his class."

Madeiros said the other players in the car also were very close friends of his son and Ethan.

Two of the players in the car, Tyler and Andrew Larson, still were in Chambersburg Hospital Saturday night and were in stable condition, a hospital spokeswoman said. The third, Jeff Riedy, was treated and released.

Pennsylvania State Police said the car was northbound when the unidentified driver lost control of the vehicle on a curve. The Corolla swerved back and forth across the center line several times and slid into the path of the pickup, driven by Cindy Wells, age and address unavailable, of Chambersburg.

Wells attempted to avoid the collision, but the truck struck the driver's-side doors of the car, police said.

Gunnell was pronounced dead at the scene, and Madeiros was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m. at Chambersburg Hospital, Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner said. Gunnell was sitting in the left rear passenger seat and Madeiros was in the center rear passenger seat, he said.

Wells was treated at Chambersburg Hospital and later released, a spokeswoman said Saturday.

"We'll have counselors available for the students Monday and through the week as they are needed," McKee said. Both of the boys were sophomores, he said.

"Kids were at the hospital for hours and at the school," McKee said Friday night. "The school has really pulled together to be there and pray."

Madeiros said his family was touched "by the outpouring of love and concern by the friends who showed up at the hospital and the school." He also praised the hospital staff for their care and professionalism.

Cumberland Valley Christian School, at 600 Miller St., has about 390 students from preschool through high school, McKee said.

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