School mourns loss of classmate

Local News

WATSEKA, Ill. (WCIA) — Staff and students at Watseka Community High School are still processing the death of one of their classmates.

Bryce Denoyer died Thursday from injuries he got in a single-car crash last week. Denoyer was a sophomore and played on the football team.

“The word I just keep coming back to is heartbreaking,” said head coach Aaron Hilgendorf. “Bryce is a kid that’s full of life.”

The school called an assembly Thursday to announce the news and let everybody mourn together. Besides football, Denoyer also participated in basketball, track, and show choir.

“It’s not just a football thing,” says Hilgendorf. “One of the special things we’ve told stories all week about is how many groups he’s a part of. The whole school knew who he was and what kind of person he was.”

The Iroquois County Sheriff’s Office says Denoyer crashed on a county road just outside of St. Anne. His car ran off the road and hit a utility pole. They say icy road conditions may have played a factor in the wreck. The people who knew him best say his positive attitude was contagious.

“As a coach and a teacher, you spend a lot of time with the students,” says Athletic Director Barry Bauer. “Bryce was one of those that had a very unique ability to bring a lot of positives to teammates and classmates.”

Through all his clubs and teams, friends say he just loved competing. A rare talent on the field, Denoyer dressed for varsity as a freshman and made big contributions last season. Memories of Bryce will not fade anytime soon though, the Warriors will now play in his memory.

“He just cared about his teammates,” says Hilgendorf. “I think talking with all the players, I think that’s a thing that sticks out the most to us as a group. Just how much he cared about all of us and was willing to give to us.”

His celebration of life will be Thursday, Feb. 27 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Watseka High School gym. Classmates are raising money for his family by selling shirts and other schools are donating through a 50/50 raffle money.

His family says his organs were donated and they may save up to eight lives.

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