Classmates grieve death of friend

May 10, 1994|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Sun Staff Writer

It could have happened to anyone who was cruising down a dark, winding, rain-slicked road at 4 a.m., students at Southern High School in Anne Arundel County said yesterday.

The crash that killed Eric Michael Franklin, the 17-year-old captain of the lacrosse team, and injured his best friend and teammate, John Lawson Pasquella, 18, was no one's fault, they insisted.

"We just want to say that it was not John's fault," said Boone Poulin, 17, another teammate. "We want to make it perfectly clear. The road conditions were bad."

Mr. Franklin and Mr. Pasquella had taken their senior prom dates home and were riding down Muddy Creek Road when Mr. Pasquella lost control of the 1993 Lincoln he was driving. The car slid onto the shoulder of the two-lane road, down a gully and careened sideways 254 feet before it smashed into a telephone pole, county police said.

Mr. Franklin was pronounced dead later. Mr. Pasquella was treated at Anne Arundel Medical Center.

Excessive speed and driver error appeared to be the cause of the accident, police said yesterday.

The atmosphere at the school on Solomon's Island Road yesterday was subdued as students gathered in the hallways to talk about the accident and to remember Eric. They stood in a huddle near the lacrosse field where Mr. Franklin and Mr. Pasquella, friends since elementary school, played the sport they loved. Guidance counselors were available yesterday to help students deal with their grief.

Mr. Franklin's teammates remembered him as a devoted player who gave "110 percent." They said they would dedicate to him the season's final game today at Meade High School.

Some of the team members went to Mr. Pasquella's home in West River yesterday to comfort him. They described him as "very shaken up" by the accident and his friend's death. They said Mr. Pasquella has 15 stitches around his eye, 25 on his ear and a broken collarbone.

Mr. Franklin's family and friends gathered at his two-story house across the road from the school.

Inside, the family grieved for Eric and at the same time worried about John.

"As far as we are concerned, it's not his fault," Spencer Franklin, Eric's father, said of Mr. Pasquella.

"Neither of them would do something to hurt the other. This is just something that happened," he said.

A memorial service is planned for 7 p.m. tomorrow at Hardesty Funeral Home in Galesville. The family asks that donations be made in Eric Franklin's name to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.

According to friends and teachers, Eric Franklin and John Pasquella spent the first part of prom night with their friends at the Marriott Hotel in Annapolis. Then they went to a breakfast at Southern High School before taking their dates home.

Police said yesterday they are still trying to determine what happened next. A passing motorist picked up Mr. Pasquella and drove him to his home, police said. Eric Franklin was left in the wrecked car, which was found a few minutes later by a passing police officer.

Police spokesman Officer Randy Bell said that as a matter of routine, investigators took blood samples from both men and were waiting for test results to determine whether John Pasquella had been drinking. As with all fatal accidents, the case will be forwarded to the state's attorney's office, which will determine what, if any, charges will be placed.

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