Sapulpa High School Football Team Honors Player Killed In Crash


Friday, September 3rd 2010, 7:56 am
By: News On 6


By Dan Bewley and NewsOn6.com

SAPULPA, OKLAHOMA -- A 16-year-old boy who was a member of the Sapulpa High School football team was killed in a one vehicle accident Thursday afternoon in Creek County.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says the accident occurred on South 177th West Avenue, just south of West 91st Street South at about 5:15 p.m.

Troopers say Justin Fitzpatrick was a passenger in a 2000 Ford F-150 pickup which was traveling south on 177th West Avenue at a high rate of speed. Troopers say the driver, 17-year-old Dennis Eddleman, lost control on gravel in the roadway, causing the truck to leave the road, strike a fence and roll onto its side before striking a tree.

Fitzpatrick was pinned in the wreckage for two and a half hours. Troopers say Fitzpatrick died.

Eddleman, who is also a member of the Sapulpa High School football team, was taken to a Tulsa hospital with injuries to his head and arms. He has since been released.

OHP says both teens were wearing seatbelts and that the truck's airbags deployed.

Fitzpatrick was a junior at Sapulpa High School where he played two positions on the football team, wide receiver and defensive back.

Fitzpatrick was an up and coming star for the Chieftains. His friends say he couldn't have been a better teammate.

"He was always going. He was always smiling while he was doing it too," said Trevor Tolliver, a senior.

On Friday, Fitzpatrick's locker was covered with goodbyes from his friends. "We love you, we miss you" one says, and another, "You inspired us."

Some players even have his number, 15, written on their arms.

"It symbolizes that I make sure I know that he's there with us and that he'll be on the field with us (Friday night)," said Chase Duke, a junior.

Fitzpatrick wasn't even 140 pounds, but his teammates say he played bigger, that's why they called him the "FitzHammer."

"Yeah, FitzHammer, that's what we called him. He loved, he loved to go and hit people," Duke said.

"You could knock him down and he'd just get up and laugh at you and, 'bring it on big fella,' or something like that and do it again. He was just a great, great, great kid," said Tolliver.

OHP says the truck Fitzpatrick was riding in was simply going too fast for the gravel road when it spun out of control.

"You kind of go back to reality, kind of opens your eyes a little bit," said Duke.

As the reality sits in, the Chieftains are left with memories.

"That I love him and I miss him. He was quite the character. He was an outstanding person, and we'll miss him," said Duke.

The Chieftains played at Ponca City Friday night. Fitzpatrick's family told them he would not want the game to be canceled. There was a moment of silence and the Chieftains took the field for the first play with only ten players. 

Sapulpa High School has a memorial dedicated to Fitzpatrick on its website.