Community gathers to mourn loss of student-athlete

by Dan Holland

More than 200 residents, teammates, family members and friends of Ethan Hall, a 17-year-old student-athlete at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School, gathered on the BBHHS baseball field July 18 to remember Hall, who passed away two nights earlier in a fatal car crash on Interstate 77.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Hall and another juvenile were traveling northbound on I-77 near Ghent Road in Bath Township around 10:50 p.m. July 16 when the vehicle veered off the road, struck a guardrail and overturned several times. Hall, who was ejected from the car during the crash, suffered severe injuries and was pronounced dead on arrival after being transported by medical personnel to Cleveland Clinic-Akron General Hospital. The other minor in the vehicle sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

Broadview Heights Police Liuetenant Don Polick said the details of the crash emphasizes the importance of wearing seatbelts.

“I would say the importance of wearing seatbelts cannot be overstated,” Polick said. “I have handled many accidents where injuries were lessened or completely prevented because the person was wearing their seatbelt. Beyond defensive driving, it’s probably the best thing someone can do to protect themselves.”

Hall, whose family lives in Brecksville, had transferred to BBHHS from Walsh Jesuit High School in the summer of 2022, following his sophomore year. He was a member of both the BBHHS varsity baseball team and the Force Ohio travel baseball league.

A number of attendees spoke as mourners gathered around a flower bouquet on the pitcher’s mound with a #45 – his player number with Force Ohio – and spoke of Hall’s many great attributes. Attendees also wrote notes in memory of Hall on distributed #45 cardboard cutouts that were subsequently hung on the infield fence.

BBHHS Athletic Director Mark Maslona reflected on Hall’s short but impactful time at the school.

“He transferred from Walsh Jesuit, and I helped him through that process along with his family,” Maslona recalled. “He just wanted to become a Bee, and when he got here, he began participating in cross country and baseball. He loved being a Bee, and every minute he represented our teams, our district and our school as well as can be done. He was a very good athlete, and his love and enthusiasm for everything he did rubbed off on everyone around him.”

Schoolmate and teammate Cole Watts, of Broadview Heights, said he took to Hall immediately when the two first began playing baseball together several years ago.

“As soon as I met him, I knew he was just a great kid, and it was a joy to be around him,” said Watts. “He would bring a joy into the room everywhere he was with a smile that he had on his face every day; it was a contagious smile.

“Ethan always wanted the best for everyone; he wanted everyone to be happy, and he put everyone else before himself,” Watts continued. “He was a good kid taken too soon. He will be missed, but he won’t be forgotten.”

Teammate Gianni Anthony, of Broadview Heights, said he and Hall would encourage one another as needed while playing with Force Ohio Baseball.

“Because we were both pitchers, we would always sit together and mess around,” said Anthony. “If I had a bad outing, he would bring me up and have some laughs, and if he had a bad outing, I would pick him up in turn. I really cherish the times and memories we had together. My view on it is that God wouldn’t have allowed this to happen if He didn’t think we could handle it. I just have to believe that there’s a bigger reason for this.”

Teammate and fellow student Jaxson Semik of Brecksville said Hall had a way of lifting everyone’s spirits.

“He was a good friend and would always make you smile,” he said. “He was always smiling in every team picture. He could always pick up your spirits and make you happy – there was something special about him.”

BBHHS Head Baseball Coach Mark Hassinger said Hall was always willing to help the team in any way he could.

“He would play anywhere; he was the type of kid that would go anywhere we needed him to go,” said Hassinger. “Baseball was his love – he was only here at BBHHS for one year, but he made a huge impact on our program. He always had a smile on his face and was always willing to put in the work and do what he needed to do. He will truly be missed in our program, and he will live on through us as a program and a team.

“He was just a great kid; an awesome kid to be around,” Hassinger added. “He loved his teammates and loved his family, and everyone who came into contact with Ethan was made a better person for it. He touched a lot of lives.” ∞

Dozens of family members, friends, coaches, and teammates attended a July 18 vigil at the Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School baseball field to honor the memory of Ethan Hall, who was killed in an automobile accident in Bath Township July 16.
Photos by D. Holland.

Teammates and friends wrote messages to Hall on cardboard cutouts of his baseball number.

A memorial to Brecksville-Broadview
Heights baseball player Ethan Hall stands
in the pitcher’s mound of the high school