Bennett Rill finished his last day of school at Rachel Carson Middle School on Tuesday and met up with some friends to kick off the summer.
After dinner at a Glory Days Grill, the teens wandered over to an elementary school near the restaurant and decided to climb up onto the roof. At some point, authorities said, Bennett accidentally came into contact with a live wire and was electrocuted.
Bennett, 14, was pronounced dead at the scene. Three other youths suffered injuries not believed to be life threatening.
On Wednesday, family and classmates mourned the teen, a straight A student who loved basketball and football.
“He always went above and beyond,” said Derick Rill, Bennett’s father, said at the family’s home. “He was a great son.” Then Rill held up a red construction paper card Bennett had made for his uncle.
“How many kids do you know that give their uncles Father’s Day cards?” Rill asked.
Rill said police had told the family it appeared Bennett was electrocuted while coming to the aid of a friend at Fox Mill Elementary in the Herndon area.
“I wouldn’t be surprised at all of he was doing something helpful when he died,” Rill said.
The teens had been climbing a chain link fence and using a wire as leverage to gain access to the school’s roof, the family said.
The parents of a 15-year-old who was with Bennett said their son was climbing on the building, which was wet, when he felt “pins and needles” throughout his body and began to realized there was an electric current running through the water. They asked not to be named to protect their privacy.
A moment later, the family said, the boy was shocked by 400 volts of electricity and blown off the structure.
The family said the 15-year-old fell about 10 to 12 feet to the ground. The other boys rushed to help the 15-year-old, who was knocked unconscious. As Bennett came down, he became entangled in the wires and was electrocuted, they said.
Fairfax County police say it’s unlikely any charges will be filed in the incident, calling it a “terrible tragedy.”
On Wednesday afternoon, friends gathered at Rachel Carson for a vigil. At Fox Mill Elementary, people left bouquets of flowers on school grounds. Friends shared remembrances on a Facebook page.
Thomas Parisi, 14, who described himself as Bennett’s best friend, said he “could barely be in there” during the vigil because it was so sad. He remembered his friend as “outgoing, athletic, funny, smart.”
“They were kids playing in a place that’s not safe to play,” said Fairfax school board member Janie Strauss (Dranesville). “It was a very sad, tragic accident. Our heart aches for those parents and that family.”
Martin Weil contributed to this story.