A weekend car crash took the life of a Lehighton High School graduate.
Damian Mele, 20, of Lehighton was killed early Sunday morning. He was a passenger in a car that flipped on a windy stretch of Maury Road in Penn Forest Township.
"Always had a smile on his face. That's one thing I can remember about him, just smiled all the time," said Rich Oertner, former boys' basketball coach at Lehighton.
Oertner coached Mele on the court through his four years of high school.
"Great kid, he was a coach's dream in a way. He was a leader by just being quiet and doing what you asked him to do," said Oertner.
Police say Frank Bokan, 20, of Lehighton was headed south on Maury Road around 1:30 Sunday morning when he lost control around a curve. His Jeep left the road and drove up a dirt embankment before overturning.
Mele was one of two passengers in the vehicle.
"It's hard to absorb, it really is. I heard it yesterday afternoon and it just hits rock bottom," said Oertner.
The Carbon County coroner says Mele died from multiple blunt force injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Miguel Gonzalez grew up with Mele.
"We also played CYO basketball together and we saw each other at football games during the week," said Gonzalez.
The two young men graduated from Lehighton in 2017.
"He was a real nice guy. He was the kind to always stand up for you or always fight for you," added Gonzalez.
Both Gonzalez and Oertner sent their support to the Mele family.
"They were very supportive of the basketball program, very supportive family and I hope everybody supports them in their time right now," said Oertner.
The other passenger sustained minor injuries in the crash and the driver was uninjured. State police say the crash remains under investigation.