Vigil honors Amherst student killed in car crash

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  • Amherst Regional High School senior Carlson Rose, right, shares thoughts about his friend and classmate Sayhan Islam, who died in a car crash last week, during a gathering for the school community to remember Islam at Sweetser Park in Amherst on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Budrunnassa Prodhan, embraced by her son Safwan Islam, recounts the story of her son Sayhan Islam taking her to get her driver’s license test where they both ended up dancing for joy when she passed, and then discovered that everyone in the office behind the one-way glass was also dancing. Sayhan was killed in a car crash last week and Prodhan spoke during a gathering at Sweetser Park in Amherst on Tuesday to remember him. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amherst high school students listen to remembrances of senior Sayhan Islam during a vigil at Sweetser Park in Amherst on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amherst high school students attending a vigil for senior Sayhan Islam, listen to his older brother, Safwan Islam, left, speak at the gathering in Sweetser Park on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. Sayhan Islam died in a car crash last week. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Danielle Seltzer, who taught Sayhan Islam in English class, speaks during a gathering at Sweetser Park in Amherst on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, to remember the Amherst senior who died in a car crash last week. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 5/24/2022 10:05:12 PM
Modified: 5/24/2022 10:03:14 PM

AMHERST — Sayhan Islam arrived in Amherst from Bangladesh in 2020 never having played sports. Even so, he became a member of the Amherst-Pelham Regional High School boys lacrosse team.

“Sayhan didn’t even know what lacrosse was two years ago,” said Safwan Islam, speaking during a candlelight vigil at Sweetser Park Tuesday evening to honor the memory of his late younger brother.

Trying out and then making it to the lacrosse team, he said, “that just shows what a positive kid he was.”

Sayhan Islam’s upbeat nature and good humor, and how nice he was to other people, were qualities recounted by many of the close friends he made over the course of his two years at the school as they reflected on his life.

Islam, 19, died in a single-car crash on North East Street around 11:30 p.m. Thursday. The vehicle he was driving struck a telephone pole in foggy and wet road conditions, according to police.

Five passengers were injured in the crash. All five were mentioned by name at the outset by Jennifer Moyston, a parent and community participation officer for the town. Moyston said those students should know they are not alone as they recover.

Moyston then lit the first candle of the evening for Islam’s mother, Budrunnassa Prodhan.

With chalk written on the sidewalks surrounding the park reading “Sayhan Islam you are loved” and expressions such as “find peace,” much of the senior class, other students, and numerous teachers and administrators, gathered on blankets on the grass, holding the candles as night fell.

Carlson Rose, one of Islam’s friends, said that Islam would always make people laugh, while another friend said “he made my life in Amherst fun” and another described being the “third wheel” whenever going to Primo’s Pizza accompanying Islam and his girlfriend.

Safwan Islam, a Boston resident, said his brother had plans to attend the University of Massachusetts-Boston in the fall.

Danielle Seltzer, who taught Islam in English class during remote learning, said she was “always so impressed how happy he was and how open to the experience he was.”

Seltzer also read excerpts from the college recommendation she wrote. Seltzer said she was pleased he became friends with so many. “I’m glad he found all of you and you found him,” she said.

Sayhan Islam’s humor was recounted by his brother. Just this spring, he had been in Cancun, Mexico, when a friend of his brother’s convinced him that it was only a five-hour drive from Massachusetts to the tropical resort.

But more important, he said, is how well his brother treated their mother, always running errands for her and making sure she could get by in the United States.

“He always took care of his mother. His will be hard shoes to fill,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll do as good a job as he did.”

The family has created an online fundraiser to cover the costs of his family’s transportation and airfare to Bangladesh, as well as expenses of the funeral that will be held there. (https://www.gofundme.com/f/donate-to-help-sayhans-family)

“A beloved son, brother, and friend Sayhan was the heart of his family, always bringing laughter into any room he entered,” part of the online fundraiser reads. “Sayhan has touched the lives of many and will always be remembered for his smile and kind heart. He will be greatly missed but will forever live in our hearts.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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