NORTH RIDGEVILLE — When he was asked to talk about his younger son who died following a weekend traffic accident, Brian Sismour talked about a recent photo of 14-year-old Alexander.
“That’s Alex … that smile … that’s him,” his father said Monday evening by phone from the family’s home, which saw visits by scores of students, family and friends all trying to extend some measure of comfort. “He was always smiling, always adventurous, always indestructible. He was a pretty fearless kid and pretty headstrong.
“He could not believe there was any way possible any harm could come to him,” his father said. “But then he did have harm come to him,” he said, his voice quavering momentarily.
Alexander Sismour died Saturday afternoon at EMH Medical Center in Elyria about an hour after he was struck by a van while riding his bicycle across state Route 57 from East Broad Street.
The boy, who suffered multiple injuries, was one of a group of youngsters who were traveling westbound on bicycles across Route 57 about 3:45 p.m., according to police. The teen was struck on his bicycle by a minivan driven by Stacy R. Stanford of Elyria, who was northbound on Route 57. Police said the woman had a green light at the time and tried to swerve to avoid hitting the teen, who apparently stopped his bike in the crosswalk in the middle of the roadway.
As boisterous, friendly and happy-go-lucky as Alexander was, he also had a sensitive, caring side, according to his father, who told a story he and the boy’s mother, Doreen, knew nothing about until it was posted on Facebook after the weekend accident.
The anecdote came from a neighbor girl who spoke of an incident when she and Alexander attended Wilcox Elementary School.
She and Alex would walk to Wilcox. This girl tripped and fell and Alex immediately tripped and fell, too. Then he got up and walked with her to school. He told her later “I fell so the other kids wouldn’t make fun of you,’ ” Sismour said.
“We never knew that,” he said, his voice breaking. “We had no idea.”
A number of grief counselors were at North Ridgeville High School on Monday to help students cope with the loss, according to Principal Patricia Bahr.
Despite tears and other displays of emotion — or understandable lack of focus — students were very united in wanting to express their feelings and affection for Alex and his older brother, senior Andrew, 17, a well-known and -liked student-athlete who captains the high school soccer team and is a member of the varsity basketball team.
“They went onto Facebook and asked everyone to come to school today (Monday) wearing black, and the students responded overwhelmingly,” Bahr said, noting the hundreds of students that attended classes for the day dressed in black slacks, T-shirts or long-sleeved shirts.
“It was totally impromptu and totally student-driven,” Bahr said.
“They’re just a wonderful family,” Jeanette Asp, a financial administrative assistant at the high school, who knows the Sismours. “They’re just a part of the community. They’re such good people. This is just such a terrible thing.”
Nick Hauck and Ryan Saleet, two seniors, friends and teammates of Andrew Sismour, helped organize the day’s show of support with all-black clothing.
“I just thought it was a good idea, and got a lot of help from another student,” Hauck said. “We had several hundred people in the gym. It was fantastic how everybody came together for it (the group photos).”
Hauck, who lives near the family’s home in the large Waterbury housing development off Chestnut Ridge Road, talked about spending time with Alex.
“He was always playing baseball and football. I’ve known him since the fifth grade,” he said.
Asked to describe the teen, Hauck quickly said “he’s funny and so friendly. He was friends with everyone. He loved sports. And he was very smart.”
Saleet talked about banners that students made for Alex and his family that read, “All our prayers and thoughts in memory of Alex.”
Both students were clad in black T-shirts. Saleet adorned a plain black tee with glittery lettering to make a message that said: “Alex Sismour — 9.10.11 — I love you like a bro always.”
“He was like my little brother,” Saleet said. “We were always together to play video games and do stuff.”
“That was everything to him,” Brian Sismour said of Alexander. “Xbox Live and playing sports all day, every day … sometimes to the detriment of homework.”
Saleet also talked of how Alex had his eyes set on making the freshman basketball team this year.
“He had dropped other sports so he could devote himself to basketball,” he said.
“They’re two good ones,” Brian Sismour said when told of the two older students’ efforts to honor his younger son. “Nick lives right behind us, and we refer to Ryan as our third son. He’s here so often and sleeps over. It was Nick who came up with the name ‘Little Sis’ for Alex.”
Brian Sismour, who coached Nick Hauck and Ryan Saleet on youth sports teams in the community, spoke of how sports enabled both of his sons to know and befriend so many people. “I haven’t done it for a while, but I probably coached about 600 youth games. I cut back.”
Both boys’ and girls’ high school soccer games slated for Wednesday are to be postponed out of respect for the youngster, according to Brian Sismour. Andrew is the goalie of the North Ridgeville team.
Brian Sismour said he plans to open a special account this week at the U.S. Bank branch in North Ridgeville to benefit the schools in some positive way, such as a memorial scholarship.
“My mind has been racing today. We haven’t really gotten that far yet. We just want people to be able to celebrate what Alex was,” Sismour said.
Sismour spoke of how so many well-wishers had called or stopped by the family’s home to offer help, including money.
“Everyone asked ‘what can I do?’ We told them we don’t need money. We need prayers for my Andrew. Alex is already up there. Andrew doesn’t have his brother anymore.”
Contact Steve Fogarty at 392-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.