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Baseball player, 13, dies of head injury

JOHNSON NEWSPAPERS
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ST. REGIS FALLS — A 13-year-old St. Regis Falls Central School student died Saturday, five days after he was hospitalized with a head injury suffered while playing baseball with the school's modified team.


Brady Lee Frazier died at Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington, Vt., where he had been admitted Tuesday. The eighth-grade pitcher was hit in the head by a line drive during a practice session.


"This was totally unexpected," said Lyndon J. Farmer, a teacher and the school's dean of students. "We had been keeping track of his condition, and we kept getting good reports, a good prognosis. We were told he was coming home. People are just stunned."


An autopsy is pending.


Mr. Farmer said Brady, son of Derek Peck and Maryann Frazier, was one of his students two years ago and stood out for his positive attitude.


"Everyone you talk to just remembers his smile," he said. "He had one of those infectious smiles — you could just look at him and know he's a good kid. You couldn't help but like him."


Echoed school Superintendent Patricia A. Dovi: "He was a sweetheart. I can't believe he's gone. Our hearts go out to the family. They must be devastated."


But the district was silent on whether the practice session violated state athletic regulations.


Several posts on Facebook suggest the 13-year-old pitcher suffered the head injury while pitching to varsity baseball players.


"I don't have any paperwork in front of me, and no investigation has been completed," Ms. Dovi said.


St. Regis Falls, like other area schools, eliminated its junior varsity baseball program in favor of a modified program that encompasses grades seven, eight and nine. With the exception of modified students who are selected based on ability and pass a fitness test, only students in grades 10, 11 and 12 participate in varsity baseball.


State athletic regulations don't allow athletes from one program — a modified team, for example — to compete against athletes from another — varsity.


Varsity coach Al Duquette did not return calls for comment. Modified coach Dan Rondeau said only that the incident involved another "player on one of the St. Regis Falls teams."


Ms. Dovi said school officials have been cooperating with state police in their investigation of the incident. Franklin County District Attorney Derek P. Champagne said that to the best of his knowledge, the investigation is not criminal in nature.


Mr. Farmer said school officials were notified within two or three hours of the athlete's death. He said the decision was made to open the school building immediately to staff, students and community members who needed a place to grieve and discuss Brady's tragic death.


"We had quite a few students come to the school yesterday," Mr. Farmer said Sunday. "They're all just stunned. They're finding it difficult to understand and accept. The whole point of yesterday was having a place to get together and share their feelings. Considering the enormity of this tragedy, things went as well as can be expected."


On Sunday, the students were going online to express their feelings.


"Can't believe yur gone," Ryan Duquette wrote on a Facebook page he and two other friends created in Brady's memory. "Keep thinking your goin to call me up and ask if i wanna hang out. We all miss ya man."


Mr. Farmer and Ms. Dovi said students can expect to see counselors and clergy on hand when school resumes this morning.


"We're trying to have as close to a normal day as possible," Ms. Dovi said. "The kids need each other and the routine to deal with their loss."


St. Regis Falls Central School, in the town of Waverly within the Adirondack Park, serves fewer than 400 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

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