Frazee-Vergas rallies behind teen wrestler in critical condition following car crash
FRAZEE, Minn. - When Myrel Schermerhorn hit the gym in recent years, the 17-year old wrestler would say it was time for "beast mode."
Now, the muscular junior's favored phrase is a rallying cry on collection jars throughout his high school, set out to take up a collection for his medical costs after a car accident on Friday left him fighting for his life.
Schermerhorn remains hospitalized at Essentia Health in Fargo. At last update, he was in critical condition. His car rolled from an icy road into a pond near here on Friday night after he left a wrestling fundraiser. Authorities say he was submerged in frigid water for about 20 minutes.
The accident has prompted an outpouring of support at Frazee-Vergas High School. School administrators asked reporters not to interview students during a difficult time, but the atmosphere of solidarity is unmistakable.
Nearly every locker is decorated with a "Pray For Myrel" sign. Hundreds of students showed up this week in Schermerhorn's trademark bandanas, and students signed two large posters with messages of encouragement.
"You're the strongest guy ever, and we're all praying for you," wrote one student.
"Keep fighting so you can get back on the mat," another wrote.
Principal Rob Nudell said Schermerhorn is "one of those kids that everybody in the school knows."
He said Monday was a difficult day for many students, but that they're holding up well and showing their support for their ailing classmate.
"Kids have really rallied," he said.
Monday was the first day of wrestling practice. Superintendent Chuck Cheney said it was an especially difficult day for Schermerhorn's coaches and teammates, but that they, too, are rallying in support.
He said the student council and other student groups spearheaded collections to help defray medical costs. Students are also working on making T-shirts for support and to help raise money for the family. An account has been opened at Bremer Bank in Detroit Lakes for donations to the family.
Cheney said the initial reaction to the news was shock.
"It was, 'Why Myrel, and why us, and what could have been done differently?' " he said.
He said the accident was particularly jarring coming off Friday's fundraiser for the team, a well-attended event in a community where the sport is a big deal.
"In this town, wrestling is huge," Cheney said. "It's the thing to do."
Schermerhorn's family and friends have set up a CaringBridge website with updates on his condition. Bruce Lemon, a close friend of Schermerhorn who encountered the crash scene Friday night on his way home, wrote Sunday that Schermerhorn suffered no broken bones in the crash, but was experiencing brain swelling. He said he was told Schermerhorn did not have a pulse when he was first pulled from the car.
"I have had the chance to see Myrel everyday so far and Myrel has been looking so much better as time goes on," he wrote.
In a Tuesday afternoon update, Schermerhorn's sister, Leah, wrote that Myrel's body temperature had been raised to close to normal, and brain swelling that occurred after the accident was starting to go down.
She thanked the community for its support.
"All we ask is that everyone continues to pray!" she wrote.