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'He's the love of my life': High school senior discusses losing boyfriend in Gresham crash

Sophie Vawter, 17, discusses losing her boyfriend, Nick Lyngheim, 18, in a Sept. 14 car crash in Gresham. (Inset photo courtesy Sophie Vawter).

A senior at Centennial High School in Gresham talked with KATU on Monday about losing a young man she calls the love of her life to a car crash.

On Monday evening, a candlelight vigil was held at the school's football stadium for him and two surviving victims.

The three 18-year-old former football teammates just graduated from Centennial in June. They were in a car together within a mile of the school last month when they got into a serious accident.

17-year-old Sophie Vawter showed a KATU reporter pictures of her late boyfriend, Nick Lyngheim, during an interview on campus.

"So we've got this one which is really cliché," Vawter said, describing a photo of her and Lyngheim kissing after a football game. "That was when he asked me out and that was our first kiss. And that was like at the end of the cliché high school movie where I 'friend-zoned' him and then I realized that I loved him so then at the end of the football game after a really big win I kissed him and we started dating."

It was clear from Vawter's smiling face that she's in love with Lyngheim, who just started his freshman year on the football team at Western Oregon University.

"When he was little at his elementary school they had this field trip that each teacher would select a kid or something that was just doing really good to go on a field trip," Vawter said. "And he was selected and he didn't go because he thought it was unfair that not everybody could go."

On Sept. 14, Gresham police said Lyngheim's friend, Henry Button, was driving Lyngheim and another recent Centennial alum, Adam Bounphisay, in his white Ford Focus when he collided with a Honda Accord.

Officers said Button was trying to turn onto West Powell Boulevard from Powell Loop when he pulled in front of the Honda.

Button was airlifted to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland.

Lyngheim and Bounphisay were rushed to OHSU where Lyngheim later died.

"I lost my best friend and I know that he's the love of my life," Vawter said, getting choked up.

Bounphisay was discharged from OHSU the next day. Police said the driver of the Honda sustained "non-life-threatening injuries."

But Button is still being treated for a brain injury and shattered bones in his legs.

"He is currently not in any coma," Vawter explained, "but he can't speak and he doesn't have strong comprehension."

Vawter, who's friends with the two surviving former teammates, said Button has a long way to go.

"We're having the candlelight vigil to honor the life of Nick," Vawter said, "and then to spread positive energy to Henry and his healing."

Vawter said she's coping by spending time with Lyngheim's family.

"I'm just feeling lots of sadness, you know, that he's not gonna be able to do the same things I am -- graduate college, that kind of thing," Vawter said, "but I'm just so glad that I did get a year with him."

The candlelight vigil started at 6:30 p.m.

A GoFundMe page has been set up in Lyngheim's name where you can donate to Centennial's football program.

Another donation site was launched for Button to help raise money for medical expenses.


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