Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content 'Popular, talented' Palmer Ridge seniors remembered after fatal auto crash

By Lisa Walton and Stephen Hobbs Updated: September 2, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Described as personable, popular and talented, Beau Begier and Ryan Pappas were remembered Monday night during a vigil outside Palmer Ridge High School, where only days earlier they had embarked on their senior year.

The two student-athletes from Monument died early Monday in a single vehicle crash that also injured classmate Mitchell Clark, 17, who remained in critical condition Monday night at Penrose Main Hospital.

The Colorado State Patrol said a 2008 Mini Cooper convertible was speeding eastbound on Baptist Assembly Road about 1 a.m. when it ran a stop sign at Roller Coaster Road. The car then went airborne as it crossed the intersection, and the driver lost control. Investigators said the car spun off the north side of the road and sped through a ditch before running into a grove of trees.

Troopers said alcohol and speed were factors in the crash.

The driver, a 17-year-old male from Parker who previously had attended Palmer Ridge, suffered minor injuries. He was arrested and taken to a juvenile detention center on suspicion of vehicular homicide, the State Patrol said. His identity has not been released.

"It's obviously not the way we wanted to start the year ... but we'll get through it," Principal Gary Gabel said. "It'll impact the school and the community for a long time."

Many students gathered to grieve the loss of Begier, 17, and Pappas, 18, on Monday night at a practice field near the high school.

"Senior year is going to be a lot different now. Having them gone is going to be one of the hardest things to happen to me, to everyone in that crowd," student body president Ryan Best said, gesturing to dozens of parents, students and teachers.

The vigil was closed to the media, but attendees said it underscored the idea of getting through the tragedy as a community.

"A lot of what was said is you've got to watch out for your friends," Best said.

Begier was a talented wrestler, according to his former coach and social studies teacher Paul Gagich. He described Begier as passionate and a natural born leader.

"He wanted to do everything. Wanted to be the best in wrestling. Wanted to be everybody's best friend," Gagich said. "And everybody knew him. He made it a point to meet everyone and talk to everyone."

The teen recently had reached out to Gagich to meet for lunch. "He wanted to talk about his future," he said.

Palmer Ridge baseball coach Steve Whiting described Pappas as friendly and upbeat.

"Any time Ryan came in a room, he always had a big smile on his face," Whiting said of his second baseman.

"He's going to be missed so much. I'm not even thinking about baseball. Just thinking about the person he was."

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