A 17-year-old former basketball player from Islip was killed in a crash Tuesday morning on Crooked Hill Road near the Suffolk County Community College campus in Brentwood, police said.
Suffolk County police said Anil John had apparently pulled off the roadway on southbound Crooked Hill Road just south of G Road after having been involved in a minor crash in which the other vehicle left the scene.
John got out of his 2011 Hyundai Sonata and was hit by a southbound 2009 Ford driven by Thomas Stapleton about 9:30 a.m., police said.
Stapleton, 81, of East Northport, was taken by Brentwood Legion Ambulance to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore for observation, police said.
John was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
His cousin, Alvin Joseph, 17, who also lives in Islip, said John's life centered around basketball, family and church.
John was studying computer engineering and computer science at Suffolk Community College and wanted to eventually start a business with Joseph, who's studying computer science.
Joseph said he remembered his tall cousin's big hugs and brilliant personality.
"We're grieving right now," Joseph said, but added: "We're standing strong."
Joseph said John was a "very loving, family-oriented person. He would always have a smile on his face, always," he said. "Basketball was his sole passion, that was all his passion."
John's former coach, Jamie Lynch, who coaches boys basketball and football for Islip High School, said John was "the nicest kid I've encountered in my coaching or teaching career." Lynch said John was a two-year starter at center for Islip and had a genuine love of basketball.
"It's a difficult situation for everybody at Islip right now. He touched so many people in a positive way, and it's going to be difficult for us to pull through this one," Lynch said. "It's just surreal right now. It's shocking."
John graduated last year, Lynch said.
In addition to basketball, in his senior year John ran the 400-meter race in track and took naturally to it, Lynch said. "He just had a good stride for that event."
"Anyone that encountered him, he had an infectious smile and was just a kid that kind of walked into the room and kind of lit it up," Lynch said. "Not a bad bone in his body."
Lynch said even when he would push John hard in practice, he never complained. "He just worked hard every day in practice and tried to be a better player."
Lynch said counselors will be made available through the school in the coming days for students who want to talk about John and the accident.
"It's just a tragedy for the district and it's going to be a rough couple days around Islip," Lynch said. "He was loved by so many people."
Both vehicles were impounded for safety checks. Police said the investigation is continuing.
Anyone with information about either crash is asked to call the Third Squad at 631-854-8352.