A cross mounted in front of Scottsdale's Mustang Library speaks to the shock and pain Desert Mountain High School students are enduring after a senior was killed Tuesday in a traffic crash.
Police said Brian O'Leary, 18, was riding his Suzuki motorcycle north on 90th Street when, about 4 p.m. Tuesday, a Ford Focus pulled out of the library and turned into his lane.
His motorcycle slammed into the driver's door of the Ford, driven by Saguaro High School student Kevyn Failoni, 17.
O'Leary, who was wearing a helmet, was flown to the closest trauma center, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. He was pronounced dead 45 minutes later. Failoni was flown to Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, where she was treated and released. A passenger in the Ford was unharmed, police said.
“We will miss him greatly,” said his father, John O'Leary.
Wednesday morning, teenagers and parents gathered at the crash site and recalled the young man whose wide smile and sense of humor brightened many lives. His death has left in shock a school community that has suffered three other fatal crashes since December 2002.
"He was a fun guy," said Jordan Silverman, 18. "He loved everybody. Not a single person hates him."
Mallory Grossman, 16, said news spread quickly at school as teens hugged and consoled each other throughout the hallways.
"Everybody liked him and knew him," she said. "There wasn't one class where there weren't people upset.
O'Leary, a wrestler at the school, had planned to join the military with his best friend, said Bryan Grossman, 17.
"He lived life to the fullest," he said. "He was outgoing, fun to be around. You always expected a surprise from him."
Sylvia Frys, 16, said O'Leary provided a broad shoulder for many students who now relied on each other for support. A motorcycle enthusiast, he recently purchased his newest bike.
He also was active in the Scottsdale Bible Church, she said.
Brandon Rock, 18, said he was stunned.
"I just saw him two days ago," he said as he looked over a make-shift memorial, which included photos of O'Leary in Halloween costume and smiling with friends, a rainbow of flower bouquets, poinsettias and candles. O’Leary’s graduation tassel hung from the cross.
A candlelight vigil is planned in front of the library, 10101 N. 90th St., near Shea Boulevard, for 7 p.m.. Friday. His father said visitation will be 1 p.m. Saturday at Scottsdale Bible Church, 7601 E. Shea Blvd., followed by funeral services at 2 p.m. Burial will be in the Paradise Memorial Gardens, 9300 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale. A reception will be at the church afterward, John O'Leary said.
Tom Herrmann, spokesman for the Scottsdale Unified School District, said counselors were at the school to help students and teachers.
"It has to be very hard on the kids, especially at Desert Mountain," Herrmann said. "Here's another student, one of their friends. It's just tragic."
Police are investigating the crash and have not cited anyone.
Police said neither O’Leary nor Failoni are suspected of being under the influence of alcohol. Police have not determined whether excessive speed was a factor.
Previous traffic fatalities involving Scottsdale high school students in the past year include:
• On Aug. 2, Desert Mountain sophomore Phillip Jacob Staun III, 16, was on his way to Payson with three other students when he and Martin Bonilla, 38, a Mesa father of three, were killed in a head-on collision at Shea Boulevard just west of Saguaro Boulevard in Fountain Hills.
• On Jan. 25, Desert Mountain sophomore Edward Yankowski Jr., 15, was killed when he lost control of the Jaguar XK8 he was driving and broadsided a forklift on East Via Linda in north Scottsdale.
• On Jan. 25, Chaparral sophomore Lisa Johnson, 16, died when a Nissan Xterra driven by Saguaro sophomore Ryan Brown, 15, went off the edge of Interstate 17 and rolled near Cordes Junction. Brown and two other teen passengers suffered multiple injuries.
• On Dec. 18, 2002, Desert Mountain junior Daniel Konchan, 16, was killed when he lost control of a Honda Accord on a curve along North 113th Place and rolled into a saguaro, which toppled onto the car, in north Scottsdale.
• On Dec. 4, 2002, Arcadia freshman Maria Isabel Munoz, 14, was a passenger in an Accord driven by Juan Carlos Chavez, 19. The vehicle whipped through a section of North 48th Street and spun into a steel post near Earll Drive in Phoenix. Munoz died at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn hospital; three other passengers, all Arcadia students, suffered injuries. Chavez was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.
Desert Mountain was one of two Scottsdale schools recently to host race car driver Kyle Petty in a presentation on driving safety.
- Tribune writer Toni Laxson contributed to this report.