Centennial Helps After Tragedy
By Jewel Goodly – Staff Writer
On Friday, January 27th, while many people in the community were enjoying the basketball game between cross town rivals Centennial and Urbana, three teenagers in the area were in a horrible car accident. The driver was 16-year old Austin Dyson, who went to Mahomet- Seymour High School, and the two passengers were 15-year old Ryan Shaffer who attends Centennial High School and 16-year old Terrance Washington, also of Mahomet- Seymour High School. On Golf Road, a little bit before nine o’clock p.m. the van sped around a sharp curve then veered off the road, hit a tree and caught on fire. Dyson died on scene. Shaffer and Washington were able to make it out of the van before it caught completely on fire.
Shaffer, who was in the front seat of the crash, is in critical condition due to burns he got before getting out of the van and is also suffering from numerous fractures on the left side of his body. He is at the Springfield Burn Center with burns and looks at several weeks of hospitalization and months of recovery. Washington was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital where he has been released.
The community is grieving over the loss of Austin Dyson and is concerned about the condition of Ryan Shaffer. Here at Centennial, a Ryan Shaffer Fund or “penny-war” was started to help donate money for Shaffer’s medical bills. Centennial students raised $740. Anyone who would like to donate directly can take money to Busey Bank for the Ryan Shaffer Fund. Counselors are also available for students who need help with the grieving process.
Many here at Centennial have fond memories of Austin Dyson. “Austin was a great kid,” Centennial junior, Drake Peratt, recalls about his friend. The two boys met at Franklin Middle School and remained good friends over a period of six years. Peratt says Austin was a great friend and never let him down. Peratt’s favorite memory of Austin, who could always put a smile on his face and make him laugh, was when he gave Austin five dollars to run around the snowy parking lot with only boxers on.
Peratt and Dyson had planned a trip to six flags in July for Dyson’s birthday and Peratt still wants to go in remembrance of his friend who would have wanted him to have a good time. Lastly, Peratt says “He was a 16- year old who had a whole life ahead of him, I wish he wasn’t gone.”