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Hundreds Gather to Remember East Carter High School Student

CARTER COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Friends and classmates gathered Sunday to remember a 17-year-old whose life was cut short by a car crash.

Johnny Fankell, a junior at East Carter High School, was killed Saturday afternoon when his car crashed on Route 1444 in Carter County just before 3:30 p.m., according to Kentucky State Police.

Hundreds of students showed up to remember Fankell, the third baseman for the Raiders baseball team, on Sunday. They held hands and stretched around the baseball field to make a human heart to commemorate Fankell.

His friends said he was the type of person who was nice to everyone and had an unforgettable laugh -- one of the things they would miss most about the young man.

"He could always make you smile, no matter what, even when I was down," Morgan Rivers, Fankell's girlfriend, said.

Fankell's best friend Jalen Nichols said they had been friends since they were eight years old and played baseball together.

"No matter what, he was always there by your side and he would do anything in the world to try and help somebody," Nichols said.

Nichols and Fankell were at practice early Saturday, and Fankell gave Nichols a ride home that day.

"I was with him two hours before," Nichols said. "So I was the last person to see him."

Kaytee Pennington, one of Fankell's close friends, showed WSAZ.com a video on her phone of her and Fankell laughing and playing around. She said she would miss that.

"Johnny cracking jokes about everything, and his goofy laugh," Pennington said, imitating the sound of it.

Pennington said she can't make sense of it.

"I don't know why things happen this way," she said. "But there's a reason, I'm sure."

"If he was here with us today, he'd probably be smiling and just amazed at how many people actually turned out and supported everybody," Nichols said.

At this point, police aren't sure what caused the crash.

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