Cape Elizabeth High School junior Cole Amorello, who excelled in theater and at making people laugh, died Monday from injuries he sustained in a car crash early Saturday, school officials said.

Principal Jeffrey Shedd emailed parents to let them know that Amorello had died. He was 17.

“We just recently learned that Cole Amorello was lost to us today from the injuries he suffered in a car accident Saturday morning,” Shedd wrote. “Please keep Cole, his mom, Sandi, and his older siblings, Olivia and Holden, in your thoughts and prayers.”

Cape Elizabeth Police Chief Neil Williams said Amorello was the only person involved in the crash, which happened shortly after 5 a.m. Saturday on Old Ocean House Road. Williams said speed appeared to have been a factor.

Police said Amorello was driving a 2006 BMW sedan north when he failed to make a curve and crashed into some trees. He was wearing a seat belt. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

News of Amorello’s death spread quickly among teachers, students and friends.

“I am in emotional shock,” said Richard Mullen, who teaches theater, English, speech and debate, and is the head of the high school’s theater department.

Mullen said Amorello and Ryan Wallace took the lead roles in an award-winning play called “The Dishwasher” last year.

The play was so good that it brought Cape Elizabeth’s drama team the 2015 Maine Drama Festival title, an honor that gave the good friends the opportunity to showcase their acting talents in the New England Drama Festival.

Amorello played a dishwasher who had “an inflated view” of his role in the kitchen. Wallace played his alter ego.

“(The dishwasher) thought he was the center of the universe, but he had it all wrong,” Mullen said in a telephone interview Monday night.

“If there ever were a perfect performance, that was it,” Mullen said. “I’ve seen thousands of kids during my teaching career, but Cole was the golden kid.”

Mullen, 79, has taught at Cape Elizabeth for nearly 40 years.

Amorello already had started rehearsing to perform as an eel in the high school’s production of “The Little Mermaid.”

“Cole was one of the funniest people I have ever known,” Wallace said. “Cole knew how to commit himself completely, whether it be to making a joke or to a role in a play. He made people happy. He would joyfully and with pride entertain us all.”

Wallace, a 17-year-old junior, said the mood at the high school was somber Monday.

“There’s not one person at that school that hasn’t been affected by Cole’s death,” Wallace said. “Cole touched every person in the school.”

In his email to parents, Shedd emphasized the impact Amorello’s death has had on the high school community.

“Cole was a bright, spirited young man, who was talented in theater, speech, writing, conversation and making friends with adults and students alike,” Shedd wrote. “He was witty and spontaneous and full of life and dreams for his future.

“He followed his passions and marched to the beat of his own drummer in a manner admired by all. He was one of those students who managed to cross all sorts of social groups and cliques, which was evident today in the many, many students who have been affected by his situation. His loss, as with any loss to the Cape Elizabeth High School community, is deeply felt.”

There were numerous emotional posts to Amorello’s Facebook page Monday night, including one from Haley E. Fawcett.

“We didn’t know each other long, but I always felt at ease talking to you and being around you,” she wrote. “Your personality was electric, your charisma was captivating, and you were daringly, unapologetically funny. When you were around there was never a dull moment.”

Shedd said counselors will be available Tuesday to help students. Juniors were scheduled to take their SAT exams Tuesday, but they can opt to take a makeup exam later this month instead.

Shedd said parents of students who need help can call Art of Awareness in South Portland (799-1331) or the Center for Grieving Children in Portland (775-5216).

Old Ocean House Road is also the road where 17-year-old Cape Elizabeth High School student Kevin Brady died in August 2000 after crashing his car. Speed also was considered to be a factor.

The Kevin Brady Spirit Award and scholarship is given annually in memory of Brady, a Cape Elizabeth High soccer player.

 

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