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Death Turns Homecoming to Mourning

September 18, 1999

ROSCOMMON, Mich. (AP) _ It was to have been a festive time for this Michigan community and Erica Frydrych, a finalist to become her high school’s homecoming queen.

But in an instant Friday _ just hours before the 17-year-old girl was to have learned whether the crown was hers _ her death became this town’s heartache.

Ms. Frydrych was driving on the town’s main street when her pickup truck was struck broadside by a larger truck. The Roscommon High School teen-ager died before arriving at a Grayling hospital.

The crash happened moments before the community parade, held yearly before the homecoming football game. And word of her death spread swiftly through the town of about 1,000.

Residents gathered on porches, talking in hushed tones. Students met at the high school with grief counselors. A police officer was sent to pull over the bus carrying the opposing football team _ from Coleman High School _ and turn it around. The parade and game were canceled.

``We’re all just reeling,″ said Don Mick, superintendent of the Garrish-Higgins School District, which takes in students from Roscommon, St. Helen and Higgins Lake.

Added Tim Klein, the 650-student school’s football coach: ``It was a sunny day. Everybody was in a good mood and preparing for the festivities.″

Voting for homecoming queen was to have been held during the football game’s first half, with the crowning at intermission.

Police said Ms. Frydrych was traveling alone when her vehicle was hit just after school ended. Two other people involved in the accident were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. An investigation was pending.

The school planned to make crisis counselors available to students throughout the weekend, with school to be open Monday.

``We’ll begin the process of dealing with this,″ Klein said.

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