Frazee mourns Myrel: It wasn't supposed to end this way
The Frazee community is in mourning after Myrel Schermerhorn, the 17-year-old Frazee-Vergas High School wrestler hospitalized since a car accident last month, died on Monday.
Schermerhorn's father wrote on the family's CaringBridge website: "This is the proudest Dad in the world," but Myrel "lost this match."
Myrel's funeral has been scheduled for Friday at noon in the high school gymnasium. There will be no school on Friday in Frazee.
His father's update was posted at 12:44 p.m. on Monday. In the hours that followed, hundreds of people -- both those who knew Schermerhorn and those who followed his struggle from afar - posted messages of sympathy and support to the website.
"You put up an amazing fight and proved to the world what 'Beast Mode' means," wrote one visitor, invoking one of Schermerhorn's favorite phrases.
Another wrote: "I believe that for some unknown reason, for some reason we are unable to grasp, that God needed Myrel on his team."
Schermerhorn had been unconscious at Essentia Health in Fargo since Nov. 18, when his car flipped on an icy road into a pond as he drove home from a wrestling team fundraiser. Authorities believe he was submerged there for about 20 minutes.
Bruce Lemon, a friend who encountered the crash scene, wrote on Schermerhorn's CaringBridge website after the accident that Schermerhorn did not have a pulse when he was first pulled from his car.
At times since then, his family had been cautiously optimistic that he was taking small steps toward recovery, giving updates on the website. In the past few days, however, they said complications arose including infections, a partially collapsed lung and kidney issues.
A cause of death was not immediately available on Monday.
Charles Cheney, superintendent of Frazee-Vergas Public Schools, said the news came as a shock to a school that rallied behind Schermerhorn with high hopes for his recovery.
"It's been very difficult for our kids," Cheney said. Our kids and all of us had the hope and the desire and the belief that Myrel was going to be fine. This result was something that nobody even wanted to think about."
After learning just hours before that he had passed away, the Frazee-Vergas School Board held a moment of silence for Myrel and his family Monday night.
"I don't know if this is appropriate, but let's have a moment of silence for the Schermerhorn family," Chairman Rich Ziegler said, getting choked up.
Cheney said at the meeting that the district staff and students have been supportive of the Schermerhorn family and are willing to do whatever is needed to help.
The district is ready "to do whatever the family needs to go forward with their plans," he said.
While the district is giving them space while they grieve, he said the district is there for support and whatever else is needed.
Cheney said earlier that the school did not officially notify students because the news had already spread via social media and other means.
Schermerhorn was a "vibrant, excellent person" - a great student who loved contact sports, he added.
"He was just an energetic, fun-loving young man," Cheney said.
After the accident, Frazee-Vergas High School Principal Rob Nudell said Schermerhorn was "one of those kids that everybody in the school knows."
He said he expects the school to come to the family's support with the same vigor it did after the accident, when students hung "Pray for Myrel" signs on nearly every locker, took up collections for his medical costs, and sold t-shirts to help raise money for the family.
"I am certain that his community will be equally supportive of the family as they grieve the loss of their son," Nudell said.
Frazee Activities Director Dave Trautman said that the district had been debating whether or not to go forward with the scheduled wrestling tournament on Saturday.
"But the family wants this to happen. We plan to go forward with this tournament," he said.
(Marino Eccher writes for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, a Forum Communications Co. newspaper. DL Newspapers writer Pippi Mayfield contributed to this story)