HOLDEN — A Wachusett Regional High School senior from Rutland was killed Tuesday when the car he was driving crashed into trees and caught fire near Millbrook Street and Muschopauge Road.
According to Timothy J. Connolly, spokesman for Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., Luke Inwood, 17, of 1 Haven Hill Road, Rutland, had left school early and was driving on Millbrook Street around 12:10 p.m. when he lost control of the vehicle he was driving and struck several trees on the side of the road. The car caught fire, Mr. Connolly said.
Mr. Inwood, an accomplished online gamer, was pronounced dead at the scene, Mr. Connolly said.
There were no other vehicles involved, and Mr. Inwood was alone in his vehicle. The cause of the crash is under investigation, Mr. Connolly said. Investigators are looking at speed as one of the factors in the crash, he said.
In Mr. Inwood’s hometown Tuesday night, candles lighted up the middle of an empty field at Memorial Park about 9:30. Off to the side, a smaller fire burned, and around it stood several friends of Mr. Inwood.
As they walked back over to the candles, some laughed, and some talked. They said they were fellow students at Wachusett.
“Everybody knows he was the heart of Rutland,” said Justin Goodney of Rutland, who said he has known Mr. Inwood since fourth grade.
Mr. Goodney said what started as a few Twitter postings about a vigil Tuesday night turned into hundreds of people, including Mr. Inwood’s mother, showing up to pay their respects.
“She was so strong, she spoke to the group,” Mr. Goodney said afterward.
Mr. Goodney and others said Mr. Inwood was well-liked and had a great sense of humor.
“He wasn’t always the easiest to get along with, but he was good-hearted,” Mr. Goodney said.
His friends said he had varied interests and was already dabbling in the stock market. He had a younger brother, Mr. Goodney said, and lived with both his parents.
Mr. Goodney said the last time he spoke with Mr. Inwood was around 11 a.m. Tuesday, before he left.
His friends said he was an accomplished online gamer, and had traveled the country competing in tournaments.
But back home, he was known as one of the neighborhood kids who spent most of his summers playing hoops at the nearby Uptown Courts.
The group was already brainstorming Tuesday night how they could memorialize their friend in a more permanent way. One of the group said a three-on-three charity basketball tournament might work; another proposed raising money to fix up the basketball courts that Mr. Inwood spent so much time on and to have them named in his memory.
The group picked up the candles and started bringing them back to the far corner of the field. They were still amazed at the turnout for the vigil.
“Everyone just stood here for half an hour and nobody said a word,” Mr. Goodney said. “It was totally silent.”
News of Luke Inwood’s death also spread quickly through the gaming community among those who remembered “Froggir_eX” — his online handle. He was skilled at playing “Call of Duty” games, they said.
International Business Times had news of the death on its website and said Mr. Inwood had played professionally for the eXcellence Gaming team.
Some friends quickly designed and began selling shirts bearing a photograph of Mr. Inwood, while others took to the online fundraising site gofundme.com. Both efforts were created to raise money for Mr. Inwood’s family.
Hours after the accident, #RIPLukeInwood was trending on Twitter in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom as gamers, friends and strangers offered condolences.
Staff reporter Kim Ring contributed to this report.