Mar. 14—Hours after Lancers senior football captain Jacob Naar died in a fiery car crash on Friday night, school officials opened Londonderry High as a place for his teen classmates to grieve.
"I think it's a testament how much he meant to everyone that so many people showed up on such short notice," said Sam Carey, a health and physical education teacher and special teams football coach at the school. "I'd say there were over 200 people there, from students to staff, teachers and coaches, the superintendent ... all to show how much they loved and missed Jake."
Londonderry police said the 17-year-old died when his vehicle crashed near the intersection of Hardy and Hovey roads around 9:30 p.m. Friday and became engulfed in flames.
Carey said Naar was a "special part" of the town and team.
"He was such a bright spot, a great kid," Carey said Sunday. "So respectful, always ready to work, helping out the younger players and setting a good example on and off the field."
Lancer head football coach Jimmy Lauzon said he's known Naar and his family for about seven years, having had the opportunity to coach him at a young age.
"One of the things that stood out this year was how he developed into a leader," said Lauzon. "I remember him as a quiet kid when he was younger, but he worked hard and grew to become a leader on our team. It's such a loss. My heart grieves for his family."
"He was such a technician on defense," added Lauzon. "I remember going over to give our kids on the d-line a pep talk before a game on Friday night, and Jake had already talked to them, got them ready with exactly what they needed to do."
Londonderry Superintendent of Schools Scott Laliberte said grief counselors will be available at the high school for students and staff to speak with when classes resume Monday.
"He was a very respected, well-liked young man, in the school and the community," said Laliberte. "We are ready to support his family any way we can."
Laliberte said once word of Naar's death reached school officials, the decision was made to open Londonderry High School for a few hours Saturday as a place for his friends and family to gather.
Lauzon said Naar began calling play-by-play on livestream broadcasts of school basketball games.
"He really enjoyed it," said Lauzon. "I think it was something he was interested in pursuing, something in communications. It's a terrible loss for his family and for Londonderry."
Tributes to Naar began appearing on various social media sites Sunday.
"We lost one of us last night," read a post on Londonderry Lancers Gridiron Facebook page. "Hold each other a little bit tighter and keep Jake, his family, friends, teachers and coaches in your thoughts as we work to understand why and work to heal together. #LancerNation"
"Our thoughts are with the Naar family and the whole Lancer community," read a post on the Lancer Percussion Facebook page. "We stand with Jake's family, friends, teachers and coaches. Forever a Lancer, he is with us always. #LancerNation"
State Rep. David Lundgren, R-Londonderry, has worked as a chiropractor for over 40 years and treated many Lancer athletes over the years.
"My heart is heavy hearing of the loss of such a great person, Jake Naar," wrote Lundgren on Facebook. "Of all the years of treating Londonderry athletes he was one of the most polite happy kids. What a joyful presence he brought into the office. His eagerness to get back to playing. The many conversations about his teammates. All of this is a tribute to his upbringing. My condolences to his dear family and all of his friends."
Police are asking anyone with information about the crash to contact Detective Junior Garcia at 432-1118, ext. 5924, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.