Tragedy for Tonasket family

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TONASKET – A trip home from college has left two students dead and one injured.

Brady Freeman, 21, a 2005 Tonasket High School graduate and co-valedictorian, was killed April 25 in a car crash 13 miles south of Okanogan. His girlfriend, senior Jocelyn Denham, 21, a native of Bend, Ore., also died. Freeman, a junior, and Denham were both Pacific Lutheran University students. Brady’s twin and co-valedictorian Boone Freeman, a junior at the University of Puget Sound, was transported to the Okanogan Douglas County Hospital in Brewster. He was released early Saturday afternoon.

The accident occurred at about 5:35 p.m. April 25 when the car Brady Freeman was driving, a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am, traveling northbound on Highway 97, drifted into the southbound lane, hitting a 1999 Ford Expedition. The vehicles came to rest in the road and a passer-by moved the Grand Am, with all three passengers inside, before the Expedition burst into flames. All three people in the Expedition got out safely and with minimal injuries.

Freeman and Denham were pronounced dead at the scene. All passengers except Denham were wearing seat belts. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Boone Freeman is currently with his family, parents Tim and Rhea Freeman, at home in Tonasket. Several of his football teammates came from Seattle to be with him.

Both Brady and Boone were wide receivers on their college football teams and both played football and basketball in Tonasket. Older brother Tucker Freeman played football for Whitworth University. He graduated in 2007.

PLU football coach Scott Westering also came to Tonasket Saturday to see the Freeman’s. He left that night.

Boone and Brady’s aunt Shelly Freeman said the family is doing all right.

“They’re doing OK,” she said. “They’re doing good. As well as can be expected at the time.”

Family and friends have circled, she said.

Tonasket photographer Terry Mills said the two boys were the type most people would hope for.

“They were standouts every year,” she said of their athletic achievements. “They worked well with little kids, they worked well with adults. They were respectful, wonderful boys with great senses of humor. You couldn’t ask for two nicer kids.”

High school vice principal and athletic director Kevin Terris said that Tonasket High School was somber Monday.

“There’s sadness in the air,” Terris said. “These were two of the most generous, nicest guys you’ve ever met. There was an incredibly bright future for both of them.”

The brothers were varsity athletes in football and basketball at THS.

“They were both very good athletes,” Terris said of the twins’ time at THS.

The family attends the Free Methodist Church in Tonasket. Mills said that the Freeman’s had been spending time with their pastor.

“Their parents never missed a football game for either of the boys if they were in the state,” Mills said.

Boone Freeman was released from the hospital Saturday.

“He’s sore all over,” his aunt said. She said he would need surgery on his face as well as time. “Ligaments, bones, muscles – healing takes time,” she said.

He did not remember any of the accident, she said. “Hopefully it will stay that way.”

She has faith in her nephew’s ability to recover.

“He’s a trooper. He’ll be OK,” she said.

There has been a Tonasket Community School’s scholarship fund set up in honor of Brady for a scholar-athlete. An uncle is also setting up another fund.

There will be a community-wide celebration of Brady’s life at Tonasket High School on Thursday, May 1 at 3:30 p.m. Brady’s teammates on the PLU football team will also arrive via charter bus. Some members of Boone’s UPS team might also come.