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Riverhead school community mourns sudden loss of high school football star

The Riverhead High School community was rocked Monday morning as word spread of the sudden passing of senior football player John Anderson.

“There are no words that can fully encapsulate the grief that the entire Riverhead community is feeling in the face of this tragedy,” said school Superintendent Nancy Carney in a statement. “We stand with the Anderson family today in sympathy and sadness.”

Anderson, 18, died Sunday afternoon at Reeves Beach, according to Riverhead Town police chief David Hegermiller. Police were called to the parking lot at the beach about 3 p.m., he said.

According to the police chief, Anderson died of an apparent gunshot wound. The incident “appears to be non-criminal at this time,” Chief Hegermiller said.

Ms. Carney said counseling services were available for students to help them cope with the “tragic loss.” The school has also reached out to other agencies for additional support.

The 6-foot-tall senior earned a starting position for two seasons and was a key lineman on the school football team, anchoring both the offensive and defensive lines, according to a News-Review story about Anderson’s accomplishments.

Friends and teammates took to social media to share their grief over his passing. On Instagram, one teammate  said he never saw Anderson with a frown on his face and wrote that the senior had given him a ride last week when he got stranded.

Anderson, he said, was his first friend on the team.

“I will never forget the things you’ve done for me,” the teammate wrote, adding that from now on “whatever I do is for you. I love you bro.”

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