DANVERS — Friends of Steve Bekel say they'll always remember the smile of the promising and friendly 15-year-old who died Saturday, one day after his father, William, lost his life in the same car accident.
Hundreds of St. John's Prep students, teachers and parents gathered last night for a candlelight service to remember the Danvers freshman.
"It was appropriate that we did this tonight because he liked being with his team and his friends so much," said Conor Dowley, Steve Bekel's basketball coach. Steve Bekel's father was a regular in the stands, and was driving his son on Friday.
Michael Hayes had known Steve Bekel since sixth grade.
"He was a good friend," he said.
Other friends of Steve said one characteristic always set him apart: "His smile," said Jack Doyle, who'd been friends with him since kindergarten. "Always smiling," fellow freshman Will Jennings agreed.
Dowley said Steve Bekel always put the team ahead of himself, pushing for the greater good on and off the court.
"He was immediately liked and respected by everyone in the room, and that increased exponentially the more you got to know him," he said.
The Bekels' Honda crashed into a telephone pole Friday at 4:49 p.m. on Conant Street, not far from the family's home. Friends left bouquets, prayers, notes and a signed baseball around the pole. One note began, "Steven, you'll always be remembered" while another said he'd had the biggest heart.
Memorials also moved online: The "Rest in Peace Steven Bekel" group on the Facebook social-networking site had more than 1,400 members last night, with more friends joining every hour. The group's listed founder had urged friends at Danvers High to wear a white shirt and blue ribbon today in honor of Steve.