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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘He was a friend of all people’: Ferris postpones basketball games after alumnus’ death in crash

Extra counselors were at Ferris High School on Friday, January 24, 2020, to help students and staff after the death of 2019 graduate Kellen Erickson, 19, who died in a crash Thursday. (Courtesy)

Ferris High School postponed its basketball games and had extra counselors on hand Friday after the death of 2019 graduate Kellen Erickson.

The reaction to the death Thursday of Erickson, 19, shows the effect he had on students and staff during his time at Ferris, said Principal Ken Schutz.

“Kellen was happy-go-lucky and just a friend of everybody,” Schutz said. “He was somebody who drew people to him. … He was a friend of all people.”

Erickson played both varsity basketball and soccer during his time at Ferris, and his sister, junior Laney Erickson, has been a standout in basketball for the Saxons this season.

“A lot of people loved Kellen,” said boys varsity basketball coach Sean Mallon. “He’ll be missed.”

Mallon said he saw Erickson grow more mature, gain confidence and become a leader from the time he had him in social studies class as a sophomore to when he was the team’s starting point guard last season. Erickson had a knack for catching fire and hitting big shots, Mallon said.

“When the moment was big, he came through for us,” Mallon said. “His thing was he’d hit a big 3 or he’d get to his pull-up, which was automatic points.”

Erickson’s uncle, Kelly Risse, said he always rooted for the underdog, following the Denver Nuggets through consecutive seasons of missing the playoffs and becoming a fan of center Nikola Jokic before he became an All-Star.

“He was just an absolute kind and sensitive soul,” Risse said. “He fiercely loved his family. … (For) my two boys, he was their hero.”

Risse said Erickson was taking a gap year and planned to attend Washington State University in the fall.

He began working at Rosauers over the summer, according to the supermarket chain’s president, Jeff Philipps.

“Kellen was a great, young guy with lots of promise,” said Philipps. “He was really engaging. (He) knew a lot of neighborhood customers and got along with our employees.”

Schutz said he appreciated Mt. Spokane High School’s support in allowing Friday’s basketball games to be rescheduled for Feb. 8.

“We’re trying to honor both his sister and her time to grieve, and all our kids,” Schutz said. “We’re thinking about the family at this difficult time. We just want to send our condolences.”

Erickson died in a single-car crash south of Spokane early Thursday afternoon. He was the lone occupant.

A preliminary investigation determined the car was traveling south on South Baltimore Road when it failed to negotiate a curve and struck a tree at a high rate of speed, according to a news release.

“We’re trying to put our arms around everybody right now,” Schutz said.