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Alcoholism & Addiction

High School Football Star Killed in Drunk-Driving Crash

Steven Dankos and Thomas Erdman, both football stars at Howard County’s River Hill High in Maryland, were best friends. Both 17, Dankos started every game at offensive right guard, and team captain Erdman was left guard. After losing an important playoff game Friday—ending the team’s 40-game winning streak—Dankos and Erdman went out partying Saturday night.

According to the Washington Post, around 3:00 am Sunday, Erdman climbed into the passenger side of his older brother David’s pickup, and Dankos jumped into the truck bed. Although David, 22, had been drinking, the two boys got into the car with him.

During the ride home, David veered the truck off the road, slamming into three stone pillars. Dankos was killed immediately. The Erdman brothers were injured and released from a nearby hospital, and David Erdman was charged with drunken driving, homicide by motor vehicle while intoxicated, and manslaughter by motor vehicle. Bond is set at $10,000, according to police.

Dankos was an outgoing teenager with a wide circle of friends, according to those who knew him. "We were all just trying to be there and help his mom and his family cope with the situation," coach Brian Van Deusen said. "You spend so much time with these kids, and they spend so much time together that they become their own family, and they’re all trying to pull together."

A cross made of debris from the accident was fashioned at the scene, and friends have been leaving notes and flowers at the makeshift memorial.

"I couldn’t believe it when I heard. Steve is a really good friend, and it’s just unreal that this happened," said senior running back and linebacker Kevin Moore said. "It’s real, real tough, because he was such a great friend to everyone. I don’t know what the situation was, but I wish someone could have been there to tell him, ‘No, don’t get in the car. Don’t do that.’"

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