SUBURBAN WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A 17-year-old Palm Beach Central High School student and athlete was killed after he lost control of the Jeep he was driving, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said.
Daniel McCauley was driving eastbound on Forest Hill Boulevard just after 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday when deputies said he lost control of the Jeep, left the road, hit a pole and crashed near the entrance of Okeeheelee Park.
"He was really a good spirit [and] a good kid," said Dyanna Lopez, a classmate and junior class president at the high school. "We're all going to miss Danny very much. He was loved and we see that today when everybody was just distraught. Even people who don't really associate with him or talk to him were heartbroken."
McCauley's friends said many of them learned of his death during their lunch hour.
"Everybody was crying that, of course, knew him," said Harrison Fields, a classmate and junior class vice president. "We were sent to the media center and that's where the guidance counselors and assistant principals were there with open arms for us and everybody was just consoling each other - crying - and remembering Danny."
Friends said McCauley, a junior, was on the school's football and wrestling teams.
They described him as a well-liked and popular student who excelled in academics.
"Everyone at school was heartbroken and crying," said Daniella Castablanco, a junior at the high school. "It was just, really, a tragedy, and we want to show our respects to him."
After school, Castablanco, Fields and Lopez placed flowers and a balloon at the accident scene.
"He's in a better place now and, you know, looking down at all [of] his friends and his family," Fields said. "My heart goes out to his family. He's a smart kid. We're going to miss him a lot."
Deputies said they were unsure why McCauley lost control of the Jeep.
Hundreds of friends and family held a candlelight vigil for McCauley Wednesday night at the same place he crashed his vehicle.
Members of McCauley's family received a round of applause from the people who gathered.
Many said McCauley seemed to have hundreds of friends.
"A great friend to anyone, he would put his life on the line for anybody," said Mcauley Roman, a Palm Beach Central junior. "He wasn't at school because he went to pick somebody else up to bring them to school."
"I loved this man, he was a brother to me, now that he's gone, I don't know what to do," said Mike Souza, a fellow Palm Beach Central junior. "He would want us to move forward and go hard for him. That's what I'm going to do."
"He was the greatest kid at Palm Beach Central. The greatest kid I've ever known," said Mitchell Stroes, another Palm Beach Central junior.
NewsChannel 5's Evan Axelbank contributed to this report.