A life taken too soon: Community mourns loss of Kent boy

Family and friends paid tribute to the late Chase Stancil with a vigil last Friday night. Flowers and  momentos are placed by one of Stancil
Family and friends paid tribute to the late Chase Stancil with a vigil last Friday night. Flowers and momentos are placed by one of Stancil's motorcycles.
— image credit: Mark Klaas/Kent Reporter

His name was Chase – fitting for a fun-loving, adventurous boy who enjoyed racing.

Aboard a powerful, swift motorcycle, Chase Stancil was comfortable and competitive. He challenged many trails, honed his skills and eventually found his way to the local dirt track. He raced against kids his own age, even those older, more experienced behind the handlebars.

Stancil was speeding down a straightaway during a practice run on the motocross track at Pacific Raceways on Aug. 7 when the 15-year-old Kent boy went over a small bump, lost control and fell, according to racetrack officials.

A 19-year-old biker right behind Stancil had nowhere else to go, a track official said, and ran over the boy.

On-site medical personnel performed CPR before Stancil was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where he succumbed to injuries.

Pacific Raceways observed a moment of silence for Stancil last Friday night prior to the motocross races.

"Our entire Pacific Raceways' staff and volunteers are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our racing community and our thoughts and prayers are with his family," said Jason Fiorito, Pacific Raceways president, in a statement on the track's website. "We remain committed to keeping this sport as safe as possible."

Also on the same night, a large turnout of family, friends and supporters assembled for a candlelight vigil on a football field at Kentridge High School. They came to shed tears, exchange hugs and share stories about a boy who left an impression on those he touched.

Stancil would have been a sophomore at Kentridge. He was a good friend, student and an athlete who was looking forward to putting on the football pads to begin practice this month.

His sudden loss stunned friends.

"He was a really good guy, funny. He was always joking around with someone," said Emmitt Medina, who rode dirt bikes with Stancil. "It's so scary because it could have been me. ... You never think it's going to happen to someone you're close with."

Grant Sattelberg, a senior-to-be at Kentridge, recalls a trustworthy kid with a positive disposition.

"He was a great guy, always happy. He never argued with anyone," Sattelberg said. "He always had your back, no matter what you were going through. He was always there for you."

Surrounded by friends, Chad Stancil stood numb, emotionally drained. He had difficulty describing his younger brother.

"He was my best friend. We were so close," said Chad Stancil, who will be a senior at Kentridge. "He was a great guy. ... was there for everyone, very active.

"He died doing what he loved to do – riding his bike."

Ryan Simpson – Chase Stancil's eighth-grade teacher at Northwood Middle School – remembers a courageous, thoughtful, enthusiastic boy who looked to do the right thing.

When a handgun was found at the school, Chase Stancil reported it to the front office.

"It was that foresight, the ability to do the right thing to really stand up for others and make sure the people were safe and protected," Simpson said.

His former student's passing is the latest in a string of recent deaths of family members and a close friend for Simpson. Nonetheless, he spoke in front of the crowd at the vigil, fighting back tears while describing a boy who wasn't afraid to help others.

"He was one of a couple of students whose acts really motivated me to want to continue teaching," Simpson said.

Visible in Simpson's classroom is a Dr. Seuss quote: "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

"He would want us to look back on the good times," Simpson said.

Services are 10 a.m. Thursday at Marlatt Funeral Home and Crematory, 713 Central Ave. N., Kent.

– Staff writer Steve Hunter contributed to this report.

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