News

Hollis and Brookline mourn teen killed in crash

Friday, December 13, 2013

By DEAN SHALHOUP
and IRENE LABOMBARDE

Staff Writers

NASHUA – Cam Ricard lived for the game of hockey.

He was a skilled player who was just coming home from practice at Skate 3 in Tyngsborough, Mass., when his truck hit a patch of black ice as he was getting on the F.E. Everett Turnpike and spun off the road. The crash claimed the life of the 17-year-old Hollis Brookline High School senior and left tragedy and despair in its wake.

“He was a great kid – I mean a great kid – to have in the locker room,” HBHS hockey coach Ken DiCredico said. “He was the one who loosened everyone up, kept the mood light when things got a little too serious.”

His father, Bob Ricard, said hockey was his son’s passion.

“He was so full of life,” Ricard said Tuesday night. “He’s been playing since he was 8 and was highly skilled. … Once he got on the ice, he only had one speed, and that was how he played the game.”

But the youth’s energy and benevolence weren’t limited to the hockey rink: Bob and Cam Ricard were in the process of building a public ice rink for the town.

“We just put the boards in last week,” Bob Ricard said. “They were all out there; it was a great community thing,” he said of his son’s teammates and other people from town. “He was so excited about skating with his friends.”

Ricard was killed around 10:30 Monday night in Nashua when the Nissan Titan truck he was driving left an F.E. Everett Turnpike on-ramp, crashed through a guard rail, became airborne and rolled at least once across the median before landing on its wheels on another nearby on-ramp.

Police said Ricard suffered massive trauma and died at the scene.

State police continue to investigate, but preliminary reports said there’s no indication alcohol was involved and that it’s likely icy road conditions caused Ricard to lose control of the truck.

On Tuesday, just nine or so hours after the crash, the cloudy, gray morning grew bleaker for HBHS administrators, staff and students, a large majority of whom hadn’t heard of the accident until they got to school and talked with friends or teachers.

District and school officials focused on assembling crisis teams that students could meet with if they felt the need.

“We were just stunned,” interim Principal Richard Barnes said. “We … allowed seniors some time to get together … it’s so fresh,” he said of the news.

Barnes sent an email to parents just after 8 a.m., saying students who felt the need to be dismissed would be allowed to.

“We are heartbroken to learn of the death … of Cameron Ricard,” Barnes wrote. “This is a tremendous loss for the Ricard family, our school, and the HBHS community.

“Please know that students will be visibly struggling with the loss of their classmate. The counseling office is open all day for students to gather and process,” he wrote.

Barnes said counselors with the statewide Disaster Behavioral Health Response Teams, based in Concord, will host a voluntary student forum for juniors and seniors Wednesday morning.

The hockey team also will hold a forum for parents at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Barnes wrote, “to speak to parents about helping students and families deal with such a tragic loss.”

Meanwhile, the day was difficult just about everywhere in the school, and the athletic office was no exception, said Assistant Athletic Director Brian Bumpus.

“Very difficult day, for sure. All of my interaction with Cam has been nothing but positive.”

With the entire season – never mind the first game – still up in the air, Bumpus said everyone’s thoughts are with Ricard’s family.

“We’re supposed to open next Wednesday (Dec. 18), but right now we’re just dealing with everything that’s happened today. We haven’t looked that far ahead.”

Shock and sadness spread across town in no time, leaving plenty of parents of students who knew Ricard, even in passing, grief-stricken.

“My son knew him a little. He was talking about joking around with him at school the other day,” Jennifer Belanger said. “I didn’t know Cam personally, but everyone who did is saying how outgoing, what a great a kid he was. I know a lot of kids are very, very upset in school today.”

While hockey was Ricard’s main sport, he also played lacrosse at HBHS through his junior year, and was involved in youth baseball in his elementary and middle school years.

Shea Whalen played baseball with Ricard for several years and called him a close friend. Whalen said he has “many fond memories of riding dirt bikes together and flipping over the swimming dock at the lake.”

“He was just a great kid,” Whalen said. “He was always about trying new things and had fun with everything he did.”

The tragedy came amid continuing discussions by school and district officials as to whether Hollis Brookline should scrap its hockey season because of low numbers, a problem that has plagued several high school hockey programs in recent years.

Those talks have been going on for some time, DiCredico said, and while Ricard’s death comes close to the start of the season, the tragedy has no bearing on that process or the final decision, which he said could come within the next few days.

As have a number of above-average high school hockey players in recent years, Ricard was weighing the advantages of playing Junior League hockey for his senior year. He’d been practicing with the New England Stars, DiCredico said, and was weighing wether to play for the high school team.

DiCredo said Ricard was the type of young man any coach would want to have on his team.

“He’s the type of kid who brought up the level of his teammates,” DiCredico said, referring to Ricard’s skills on the ice and his outgoing, friendly personality.

Bob Ricard said his son had just decided to return to the HBHS hockey team so he could play his senior year with his friends.

It was a Stars practice at the Skate 3 in Tyngsborough, Mass., that Ricard was heading home from when the crash occurred. The Stars are based at Skate 3.

Dirt-bike racing, known as Motocross, was yet another endeavor Ricard pursued to the fullest, his father said.

“He was a natural at racing. The first time I watched him, my jaw dropped. He was going over jumps,” Bob Ricard said. “I never knew he could ride a bike like that. It was one of those innate things; something just clicked with him.”

That trademark passion carried over into everything, especially hockey, he said.

“I’ve had calls from his coaches (saying) they never had a kid who worked as hard as he did in practice and who took it over to the game,” Ricard said. “They said if they had 12 more kids like him, they’d win it all.”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_ DeanS). Irene Labombarde can be reached at ilabombarde@nashuatelegraph.com. NASHUA – Cam Ricard lived for the game of hockey.

He was a skilled player who was just coming home from practice at Skate 3 in Tyngsborough, Mass., when his truck hit a patch of black ice as he was getting on the F.E. Everett Turnpike and spun off the road. The crash claimed the life of the 17-year-old Hollis Brookline High School senior and left tragedy and despair in its wake.

“He was a great kid – I mean a great kid – to have in the locker room,” HBHS hockey coach Ken DiCredico said. “He was the one who loosened everyone up, kept the mood light when things got a little too serious.”

His father, Bob Ricard, said hockey was his son’s passion.

“He was so full of life,” Ricard said Tuesday night. “He’s been playing since he was 8 and was highly skilled. … Once he got on the ice, he only had one speed, and that was how he played the game.”

But the youth’s energy and benevolence weren’t limited to the hockey rink: Bob and Cam Ricard were in the process of building a public ice rink for the town.

“We just put the boards in last week,” Bob Ricard said. “They were all out there; it was a great community thing,” he said of his son’s teammates and other people from town. “He was so excited about skating with his friends.”

Ricard was killed around 10:30 Monday night in Nashua when the Nissan Titan truck he was driving left an F.E. Everett Turnpike on-ramp, crashed through a guard rail, became airborne and rolled at least once across the median before landing on its wheels on another nearby on-ramp.

Police said Ricard suffered massive trauma and died at the scene.

State police continue to investigate, but preliminary reports said there’s no indication alcohol was involved and that it’s likely icy road conditions caused Ricard to lose control of the truck.

On Tuesday, just nine or so hours after the crash, the cloudy, gray morning grew bleaker for HBHS administrators, staff and students, a large majority of whom hadn’t heard of the accident until they got to school and talked with friends or teachers.

District and school officials focused on assembling crisis teams that students could meet with if they felt the need.

“We were just stunned,” interim Principal Richard Barnes said. “We … allowed seniors some time to get together … it’s so fresh,” he said of the news.

Barnes sent an email to parents just after 8 a.m., saying students who felt the need to be dismissed would be allowed to.

“We are heartbroken to learn of the death … of Cameron Ricard,” Barnes wrote. “This is a tremendous loss for the Ricard family, our school, and the HBHS community.

“Please know that students will be visibly struggling with the loss of their classmate. The counseling office is open all day for students to gather and process,” he wrote.

Barnes said counselors with the statewide Disaster Behavioral Health Response Teams, based in Concord, will host a voluntary student forum for juniors and seniors Wednesday morning.

The hockey team also will hold a forum for parents at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Barnes wrote, “to speak to parents about helping students and families deal with such a tragic loss.”

Meanwhile, the day was difficult just about everywhere in the school, and the athletic office was no exception, said Assistant Athletic Director Brian Bumpus.

“Very difficult day, for sure. All of my interaction with Cam has been nothing but positive.”

With the entire season – never mind the first game – still up in the air, Bumpus said everyone’s thoughts are with Ricard’s family.

“We’re supposed to open next Wednesday (Dec. 18), but right now we’re just dealing with everything that’s happened today. We haven’t looked that far ahead.”

Shock and sadness spread across town in no time, leaving plenty of parents of students who knew Ricard, even in passing, grief-stricken.

“My son knew him a little. He was talking about joking around with him at school the other day,” Jennifer Belanger said. “I didn’t know Cam personally, but everyone who did is saying how outgoing, what a great a kid he was. I know a lot of kids are very, very upset in school today.”

While hockey was Ricard’s main sport, he also played lacrosse at HBHS through his junior year, and was involved in youth baseball in his elementary and middle school years.

Shea Whalen played baseball with Ricard for several years and called him a close friend. Whalen said he has “many fond memories of riding dirt bikes together and flipping over the swimming dock at the lake.”

“He was just a great kid,” Whalen said. “He was always about trying new things and had fun with everything he did.”

The tragedy came amid continuing discussions by school and district officials as to whether Hollis Brookline should scrap its hockey season because of low numbers, a problem that has plagued several high school hockey programs in recent years.

Those talks have been going on for some time, DiCredico said, and while Ricard’s death comes close to the start of the season, the tragedy has no bearing on that process or the final decision, which he said could come within the next few days.

As have a number of above-average high school hockey players in recent years, Ricard was weighing the advantages of playing Junior League hockey for his senior year. He’d been practicing with the New England Stars, DiCredico said, and was weighing wether to play for the high school team.

DiCredo said Ricard was the type of young man any coach would want to have on his team.

“He’s the type of kid who brought up the level of his teammates,” DiCredico said, referring to Ricard’s skills on the ice and his outgoing, friendly personality.

Bob Ricard said his son had just decided to return to the HBHS hockey team so he could play his senior year with his friends.

It was a Stars practice at the Skate 3 in Tyngsborough, Mass., that Ricard was heading home from when the crash occurred. The Stars are based at Skate 3.

Dirt-bike racing, known as Motocross, was yet another endeavor Ricard pursued to the fullest, his father said.

“He was a natural at racing. The first time I watched him, my jaw dropped. He was going over jumps,” Bob Ricard said. “I never knew he could ride a bike like that. It was one of those innate things; something just clicked with him.”

That trademark passion carried over into everything, especially hockey, he said.

“I’ve had calls from his coaches (saying) they never had a kid who worked as hard as he did in practice and who took it over to the game,” Ricard said. “They said if they had 12 more kids like him, they’d win it all.”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegrap h_DeanS). Irene Labombarde can be reached at ilabombarde@nashuatelegraph.com.

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