GIBSON CITY, Ill. (WCIA) -17-year-old Colin Bane died in a car crash Wednesday night. Now, his soccer teammates, peers and the staff at Gibson City Melvin Sibley High School are coping with what they say is an “unthinkable loss.”

“He was high energy, he was high smiles, high intensity, and brought that same image of joy in everything that he did,” GCMS Superintendent Jeremy Darnell said.

Bane died after his car was hit by a semi-truck in McLean County.

“There’s not a roadmap when you deal with tragedies like this. You can try to do everything you can to create opportunities for comfort for the kids,” Darnell said.

He said he’s proud of his school community for supporting each other, but that community is small, and they’re all grieving.

“We just gave them absolute autonomy. The adults rotated through the building and just gave them space, gave them an opportunity to manage the situation and grieve the way they felt was best,” he said.

He said all but eight students showed up to school Thursday because they just wanted to be together.

“There was an enormous amount of closeness – kids consoling each other, there were tears, there was laughter. There were stories,” he said.

GCMS posted a photo of Bane on social media, and Darnell said it reached over 67,000 people by Friday morning. And in a town of under 4,000, that shows he was special.

“That’s because people are drawn to him and his memory is going to live like that picture in a very positive way,” he said.

He said there’s no playbook for leading a school through tragedy, and he appreciates the neighboring schools who showed their support this week, like Paxton-Buckley-Loda, Fisher, Ridgeview and Lexington.

“They all said ‘we’re wearing red and black in support of GCMS.’ And that means a lot. Because at the end of the day, when you’re an educator, you’re in it for serving kids. When something bad happens to your kid, you all feel it,” he said.

Even though Bane was a junior, Darnell said the seniors are planning a “quiet” way to recognize him at their graduation ceremony Saturday.