NY HS Wrestler Killed in Two-Car Crash


Teen crash victim mourned

Calling hours for Matthew Zeller will be from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.
today at the Clark Funeral Home in Katonah. A funeral Mass is scheduled
for 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Croton

(Original publication: December 14, 2004)

Matthew Zeller was slightly overweight when, as a 10-year-old, he began
taking tae kwon do at Yoo’s Martial Arts in Tarrytown, owner Sung Yoo
said yesterday.

In time, Yoo said, Zeller earned a second-degree black belt and became
so well-versed in the Korean martial art that he began teaching others.

“What he accomplished was done through a great demonstration of
perseverance, “Yoo said. “He always put his best effort forward to
overcome his physical limits. He always had a great heart, and he
always shared his love and showed compassion toward all students.”

From Yoo’s studio in Tarrytown to John Jay High School in Cross River,
many people yesterday mourned Zeller, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout and
high school senior who died in a two-car crash Friday afternoon in

Wet pavement and excessive speed contributed to the incident, state
police said yesterday.

Zeller, who lived in Goldens Bridge, was heading east on Route 202 in
a 2000 Mazda about 4:15 p.m. when he apparently lost control of his car
on the wet pavement and drove into the path of a 2001 Dodge pickup
truck driven by Michael Ercole of Putnam Lake, 31.

“The cause was wet pavement with speed as a contributing factor, “said
Senior Investigator Patrick Bosley of the Somers state police barracks.
Bosley said no charges were expected.

Ercole is the former chief of the Putnam Lake Fire Department and an
active firefighter who has responded to his share of serious car
accidents over the years. He said yesterday that, while he was still
sore from bumps and bruises sustained in the crash, he felt terrible
for Zeller and his family.

“I’m feeling all right, but I’m upset with what happened, “Ercole
said. “I did everything I could to get out of the way.”

Zeller was a member of the varsity wrestling team at John Jay and vice
president of John Jay Safe Rides. At school yesterday, counselors were
made available to students, officials said.

“We have a community where close relationships are valued, “said John
Jay Principal Richard Leprine. “In a situation like this, as tragic as
it is, you end up seeing the positives of people supporting each other:
of students supporting students, and teachers supporting students and
each other.”

In postings on a Web site associated with the Clark Funeral Home,
www.Legacy.com, classmates and friends described a young man with a
gentle soul who went out of his way to cheer people up and make
strangers feel welcome. Friends told of how customers at the A&P
supermarket in Goldens Bridge purposely would get in Zeller’s checkout
line because he was so friendly.

In one posting, the Starr family of North Salem said that while they
didn’t know Zeller well, they could tell from their experience at the
A&P that “it was obvious he was a very special young man.”

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