Sean VanDyne remembered by friends and family during a visitation at Hamilton High School

HAMILTON, Ohio -- Friends and family of a Miami University student killed in an auto accident gathered at Hamilton High School on Sunday to mourn the loss of young man who wanted to take on the world by putting a smile on people's faces.

The visitation for 18-year-old Sean VanDyne took place inside the school’s gymnasium, a place he spent countless hours while a student at the school. He would have turned 19 in October.

VanDyne, a freshman at Miami, passed away Monday night at University of Cincinnati Medical Center after being injured in a car accident in Hanover Township on Sept. 21. The wreck also took the life of Ben Flick, a 19-year-old freshman football player at UC.

Two of Flick’s teammates, both freshmen, were also injured in the crash that occurred just before 10:30 p.m. after the UC-Miami football game. Flick, Mark Barr and Javon Harrison were passengers in VanDyne's 2009 Chevrolet at the time of the crash.

As of Tuesday, Barr was still listed in critical condition at UCMC. An update on his condition was not available Sunday evening.

Harrison was also treated at UCMC. UC's athletic department confirmed Harrison was released from the hospital Tuesday.

During Sunday's vigil, VanDyne’s friends and family spoke fondly of the outgoing teen, highlighting his sense of humor and colorful personality.

His gregarious nature helped win him the heart of his young wife, Rachel. VanDyne's parents said he married Rachel, whom he had dated since the seventh grade, on Aug. 17.

“If anyone ever had a problem, they would call Sean, that’s just how he was," Rachel said of her husband after his passing.

Family members said VanDyne, a business major, had plans to attend law school after graduating from Miami. He wanted to become an FBI agent.

Former classmates say VanDyne was more than capable of making his dream a reality. They remembered him Sunday as a hard worker in the classroom who was ready to take on the world.

Megan Caudill was one of VanDyne’s classmates at Hamilton High School. The high school junior did her best to hold back tears while remembering her fallen friend.

"He was a teacher's aide in my health and wellness class. He was hilarious,” Caudill recalled. "He would make everyone laugh on bad days... (He was) always there to help everyone."

VanDyne's dedication to helping others didn't cut into his own school work. He was an academic star, friends said at the vigil, who was an example to others.

"I remember him talking about the ACT and telling me to keep trying and you'll figure it out that your hard work pays off," said Amanda Lahrmann, a senior at Hamilton who took AP English with VanDyne last year. "He did get a full-ride to (Miami) and it made me realize that if I try hard I can achieve my dreams."

Heather Svenkerud taught the exercise science class in which VanDyne served as an aide. She remembered VanDyne as a gifted student but an even better person.

"He was a great student, awesome. (He) always played practical jokes in my room, including signing tape and plastering it around my room which I'm still finding in my room," she said. "He was excellent student (and an) all around great, passionate guy."

While friends and family recognize VanDyne for his intelligence, investigators are looking into whether or not poor judgment by VanDyne or someone else inside his car caused the accident that took his life. The Butler County Sheriff's Office is looking into whether or not alcohol played a role in the crash.

Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, Lahrmann said the accident has affected the decisions people in her tight-knit community are making.

"I know people who have rethought their decisions because of this. It's the small things in life that you choose that affect you for the rest of your life," she said.

Funeral services will be held Monday at Brown-Dawson-Flick Funeral Home in Hamilton. The service is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.


9 On Your Side reporter Amy Wadas contributed to this report.

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