Belleville West High School senior Anna Kreeb, 18, knew something was wrong when her boyfriend of two years, Stephen Zehner, didn't pick her up at 1 a.m. Saturday.
"We were going to watch movies with a bunch of our friends," Kreeb said Monday afternoon.
When Zehner didn't show up, Kreeb and another friend went to look for Zehner. They found his wrecked car just after 2 a.m. in the 2100 block of State Street Road in unincorporated Belleville.
"He was dead when we got there, but I gave him CPR,"Kreeb said through tears. "Stephen was my best friend."
Stephen E. Zehner, 18, died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. A passenger in his car Megan E. Webb, 15, remains hospitalized. Webb is listed in critical condition at St. Louis Children's Hospital.
Police are still trying to determine exactly what caused the single-car crash. According to the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department, Zehner's vehicle, a 2002 Oldsmobile, was traveling south on Park Road and appeared to attempt a left turn onto State Street Road. The teens were ejected and the vehicle rolled over several times and landed about 150 feet into a field, police said.
Both Zehner and Webb were transported to St. Elizabeth's Hospital. Police said Zehner was pronounced dead upon his arrival to the hospital, and Webb was airlifted to St. Louis Children's Hospital.
Kreeb said Zehner and Webb were friends. Webb is a sophomore at Belleville West and a member of the varsity volleyball team.
West Head Volleyball Coach Austin Betz said Webb has played a "significant role" in the volleyball program the last two years. Webb started playing on the varsity team her freshman year at West.
"She is a very talented volleyball player and an exceptional athlete. She is a defensive specialist and has been a big part of what has made our defense as strong as it is, not only because of her talent, but also because she pushes the other players around her to be better," Betz said. "Megan is a fun player to coach -- always having fun and smiling."
On her Facebook profile page, Webb said, "Nothing is as awesome as volleyball. It's almost my life."
Megan Webb's sister Marley Webb, a senior, and Kreeb are also members of the volleyball team.
Kreeb described Zehner as an adventurous guy. "He was down for everything," she said. "He was the most caring person I knew. He was special. He was different than anybody else."
Kreeb said Zehner loved tattoos. "He had them everywhere," she said, saying that to celebrate her 18th birthday last weekend they both got a tattoo.
"He wanted to make everybody happy, and he really did," Kreeb said. "Everybody is going to miss him."
Grief counselors were available at the high school to help students deal with the tragic loss of Zehner and the uncertainty of Webb's condition.
Kreeb said she didn't attend classes Monday at Belleville West, but did go to the school and help Zehner's family members get some of his belongings.
According to family members, Zehner had planned to attend college and attained a 4.0 grade average in high school.
"He did a lot of yard work for me, and we did a lot of stuff in the backyard," his step grandmother Shari Zehner said. "And I can't even look out the backdoor hardly. He was just a really hard worker."
A visitation for Stephen Zehner will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Kurrus Funeral Home, located at 1773 Frank Scott Parkway West in Belleville. A funeral service will be held immediately following the visitation at the funeral home. Zehner's body will be cremated following the services.
Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.