Penn Hills High School football player killed in crash

PENN HILLS, Pa. — A Penn Hills High School senior football player was killed in a crash Saturday night in Penn Hills.

A car driven by Donovan Baynes, 17, crashed shortly before 10 p.m. on Rodi Road, the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office said. Baynes was taken to Forbes Regional Hospital, where he died.

“It is with much sadness we must announce the passing of senior Donovan Baynes who was killed in a car accident tonight. Pray for his family,” Penn Hills Football tweeted.

The car Baynes was in with his girlfriend, Alexis Rhone, 17, struck a utility pole, Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs said. Rhone is being treated for a broken nose and swelling of spine ligaments, and will likely be released from the hospital Monday. 

“The Penn Hills School District regrets to inform our High School families and District staff of the unfortunate passing of Senior Donovan Baynes in a car accident on Saturday, January 14, 2017. Donovan was a member of the Penn Hills Indians Football Team, and Head Football Coach John Peterman called him ‘an outstanding young man,’” the Penn Hills School District said in a statement. “Our sincere condolences go out to Donovan’s family and friends. Grief counselors will be on hand at the High School on Tuesday when both students and staff return to school after the holiday break.”

The Penn Hills High School couple were driving home from a college visit and had just dropped off Baynes’ mother and her boyfriend.

Rhone told Channel 11’s Mike Holden that she was lying in the back seat asleep, when all of a sudden she saw a bright flashing light. She was ejected from the vehicle and saw Baynes slumped over the steering wheel, still breathing.

"I just wanted to see him ‘cause I really thought he was OK. I believed those people who told me he was OK," she said

Rhone said she just wishes Baynes could be here for the milestones ahead, and said he was a wonderful boyfriend.

"My boyfriend was a wonderful son, brother, cousin, friend, teammate. He was an amazing boyfriend and friend," she said. “I wish he could still be here, and he could hold my hand. And we could walk graduation stage together, go to prom. We had so much stuff planned.”

Penn Hills police are being assisted by Allegheny County police in the investigation into the crash, which closed Rodi Road for a time.

A GoFundMe page has been created to assist Baynes' family with funeral expenses and to create a scholarship fund in his name (CLICK HERE).

"We have to stay strong together for Donovan. Cause that's all he wants us to do. He wants us to be happy," Rhone said.

Penn Hills School District officials told Channel 11 News that grief counselors will be at the school on Tuesday when students return to class.

Fellow athletes are asking for the community and students to come to the basketball game Tuesday night in support of both Donovan and Alexis.

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