Reporting Rochelle Ritchie
ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) — Shock and sadness for the Ellicot City community. A former high school football star who just graduated died suddenly this week.
Rochelle Ritchie spoke with stunned classmates.
Details into the death of the 2012 graduate remain a mystery but rumors about his death have been swirling at Howard High. Students say he will focus on his life, not his death.
Ask any Howard High School student about Joey Bonavitacola and they’ll have nothing but nice things to say.
“I cried. Joey, he was awesome,” said a student.
Just Monday, students learned their former classmate and football star died.
“He was really funny. All the teachers were sad about it, too,” said Skylar Gouin.
An announcement of Joey’s death was posted on the school’s website. Principal Gina Massella wrote, “The death of any member of our school community is a loss but learning of Joey’s sudden death may be especially difficult to accept.”
Joey left a mark in the classroom and on the field.
“Joey on the football field was obviously a huge star,” said Sami Syed.
He ended his senior year on the football team with 10 touchdowns and helped lead the team to the playoffs.
The cause of death hasn’t been released, but students say it’s not how he died, it’s the impression he left while he was living.
“He was a good all-around person,” Syed said.
According to a Facebook page made in his honor, his funeral is set for Friday.
Joey’s brother was also a former football player at Howard High.