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3 friends who died while camping near Michigan country music festival were high school football captains


Three young men who probably died from exposure to carbon monoxide camping near a country music festival in Michigan were friends who played high school football together. They have been identified as Dawson Brown, 20, William Mays Jr., 20, known as Richie, and Kole Sova, 19, authorities said.

“My heart breaks for these families and those who are still fighting for their lives,” Mays mother Amy Satterthwaite said, referring to two other friends who were in the hospital.

Saturday’s deaths were likely caused by carbon monoxide from a portable generator that was operating too close to their trailer, Lenawee County Sheriff Troy Bevier said on Monday.

The victims were likely asleep and “never knew what happened,” Bevier told The Associated Press.

The other men, Rayfield Johnson and Kurtis Stitt, both 20, remained in critical condition, he said.

They were in a campground across from the Faster Horses Festival, a weekend country music show, at Michigan International Speedway, about 80 miles west of Detroit.

“Our hearts are broken for families, friends and loved ones,” festival organizers said on Facebook.

Brown, Mays, and Sova graduated from Michigan Center High School in Michigan Center, about 60 miles west of Detroit. Brown had a landscaping and lawn business. Mays had talked about selling insurance. Sova worked at the Jiffy Mix factory in Chelsea and had taken university courses.

In high school, they were all chosen as the captains of the football team by their classmates, reports CBS affiliate WLNS-TV. Hundreds of people came to a candlelight vigil Monday night at Michigan Center High School to remember the three graduates.

“The older boys have mentored the younger boys and it’s like a big family and the parents know each other,” Rae Fruth told the station. “It’s a tragedy of such magnitude that I don’t think there is anyone at Michigan Center who hasn’t been touched by any of these boys or has no connection with some of them. members of his family in one way or another. “

Classmates, friends and relatives gathered at Sova’s home on Sunday to share their grief, MLive.com reported.

“They had a great life,” said Sova’s father Jerry Sova. “I think it’s important to focus on that too.”

A GoFundMe site set up by Michigan Center Athletic Boosters has raised more than $ 21,000 for families.

Separately, the state police were investigating the death of Melissa Havens, 30, of Croswell, at the festival on Saturday. The cause and manner of his death have still not been publicly disclosed.

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