PONTOTOC – A rising Tupelo High School senior who also was an avid cyclist and triathlete died Thursday doing one of the things he enjoyed most – riding his bike for miles on end.
John Paul Frerer, 18, was killed while riding from Tupelo to Oxford on the day before his senior year was to begin.
Mississippi Highway Patrolman Leslie White said Frerer was struck by a 1993 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by David McDonald of Tupelo shortly after 8 a.m.
Both were headed west on Highway 6 near the Thaxton community in Pontotoc County. The accident is still under investigation.
According to Lafayette County Coroner Lonnie Weaver, family members said Frerer was training for a cycle race this Saturday and was planning on riding his bike 120 miles Thursday.
Frerer was taken to the Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford, where he was pronounced dead at 9:47 a.m.
“The whole cycling community is devastated,” said Mark Bresee, a cyclist and triathlete who had ridden with Frerer. “He had really found his niche and was really getting into it. We’re all just sick about this.”
Frerer competed in Saturday’s King of the Hill Triathlon at Tombigbee State Park and was a member of the winning relay team in that event along with fellow THS seniors Hannah Wilson, a swimmer, and Max Holman, a runner.
“I’ve been riding in some races, but I’m not as serious as Hannah and Max” about their sports, Frerer said in an interview with the Daily Journal on Saturday. “We’re hoping to get a (triathlon) team going at the high school.”
Frerer competed in the Race of Grace Triathlon in Philadelphia on June 27, finishing third in his age group and 42nd overall.
Frerer, the son of Jim and Liria Frerer, was also an Eagle Scout and had been a member of Tupelo High’s Wave Connection show choir.
School officials said counseling would be available today for anyone who wanted it.
A memorial service with songs, prayers and personal remarks was held Thursday on the grounds of St. James Catholic Church. The funeral will be Sunday at 4 p.m. at St. James, with visitation from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at the church.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal