BRANDYWINE, Md. - Students, staff and coaches at Gwynn Park High School in Prince George's County are mourning the loss of a 17-year-old student killed in a single-vehicle car crash Tuesday night.
Prince George’s County police say Norman White was driving southbound on Temple Hill Road in Clinton when he lost control of his car and struck a tree. Patrol officers responded to the crash at around 10:15 p.m. and White was pronounced dead at the scene.
The cause of the deadly crash remains under investigation.
School officials said White was a junior at Gwynn Park High School and was a member of the football team. As a sophomore, White became a starter on the varsity squad.
“Norman was one of the biggest little guys that I have known since the 20 years I have been coaching here at Gwynn Park,” said head football coach Danny Hayes. “We call him Stormin’ Norman. We gave him that name because basically we don't play favoritism here at Gwynn Park. He played the line for us – a 175-pound lineman going against 300-pounders. He was constantly meeting the challenge. We constantly saw him at practice, what he was doing and how he was doing it – he was doing a great job at it.”
Just as he was approaching his senior year, plans were in the works to play him as a running back in hopes that a college recruiter would pluck him off the high school field and into a college stadium.
"We had a 9-1 season with him on the team and he was just a hard worker,” a fellow teammate said. “If he wasn't at football practice or working, he was DJing.”
As the school regroups and wipes away tears, the football team has just one goal for the upcoming season – a state championship. The players will play like No. 51 – with heart.
"Most of the time Norman didn't need any help,” said coach Hayes. “Norman would come back with that shy little smile of his and say, ‘Coach, I got them. I got them coach.’”
Residents said the stretch of Temple Hill Road where White was killed is dangerous. Six months ago, a 30-year-old woman also lost control of her car and died at the same embankment.
“Sometimes the lights are on, sometimes they are not,” said a female resident. “There are dips in the road and there is a curve.”
White's father is the building supervisor at Gwynn Park High School. Grief counselors were on hand for students and staff on Wednesday.