Family and friends of a former high school star athlete are mourning his death.
Matthew Deery was killed Wednesday afternoon in a car crash in Upper Nazareth Twp., Northampton Co.
People in Phillipsburg, Warren Co., N.J., where Deery attended high school, are devastated by his death.
High school students gathered Thursday to remember the kid everyone called superman, a nickname Deery earned on Maloney Field at Phillipsburg High.
"Everybody referred to him as superman because he was such a great athlete," said Dylan McManus, a close friend and Phillipsburg High School graduate. "He was just an all-star, knew how to put a smile on everybody's face. He was just a great kid."
Deery, who graduated in 2011, had a track scholarship to Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn.
While at Phillipsburg High, Deery played wide receiver and corner back for the football team. He was also a pole vaulter and hurdler in track.
But now, the place where he earned the respect of teammates is the place where all of his former classmates have come to mourn his passing.
"He was always a really nice guy," said Holly Pierce, a junior at Phillipsburg. "Nobody deserves to die this early in life, especially when they had so much to come for them after they graduated high school."
Deery was driving on Newberg Road in Upper Nazareth when he swerved to avoid hitting another car that was making a turn in front of him. Deery collided with a truck and was killed.
Students started a memorial after hearing about Deery's death, bringing small tokens of friendship, flowers and pictures and writing down memories they have of a friend taken too soon, school officials said.
School counselors were on hand to help the students deal with Deery's death and other tragic events leading up to it.
"We have had more than our share of issues dealing with our greater Phillipsburg family. In this past week, we have had three students pass away in an untimely fashion," said Bob Pierfy, Phillipsburg student assistance and crisis coordinator.
It will likely take awhile for students to deal with losing so many former classmates to car accidents and illness, said school officials.
Counselors will be available as long as needed.