Drivers involved in the accident, according to the state trooper report, were Christian Cantrell, 20, of Piedmont, who was driving a 1997 Honda and Ronald Cromer, 66, also of Piedmont, who was driving a 1996 Freightliner truck.
Cantrell, a former football and basketball player at Piedmont High School, was fatally injured in the accident while Cromer was not injured, according to the report.
Responding units to the accident included the Ellisville Fire Department, Piedmont Rescue Squad, Alabama State Troopers and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. The accident remains under investigation.
Piedmont football coach Steve Smith remembers Cantrell as a caring person.
“The thing about Christian is he always had a smile on his face. He just had a way of lighting up a room. That’s what I’ll always remember about him,” Smith said. “He’s a guy who had time for everybody, just a caring individual. Our prayers go out to his family. They’re all people I really got to know when I came to Piedmont, and we all wanted to see Christian succeed. My heart breaks for his family.”
Cantrell is perhaps best remembered for his performance in the Bulldogs’ 35-28 overtime victory in the 2009 Class 3A state championship game in Tuscaloosa.
Coming off a sprained knee injury he suffered against Leeds a week prior to the title game, Cantrell rushed for 108 yards on 14 carries with three touchdowns. He also had a 6-yard touchdown catch for the Bulldogs (13-2), who won their first football state championship.
“Anybody that’s a Piedmont fan certainly remembers that day and the game he played,” Smith said. “It was probably his best game on the biggest stage.”
Cantrell finished his senior season rushing for 1,835 yards and 22 touchdowns on 191 carries. He was named to the Alabama Sportswriters Association Class 3A All-State football team at running back.
Cantrell’s success on the football field carried over to the Bulldog basketball team. As a guard, Cantrell helped Piedmont post a 23-8 record and clinch the school’s first Class 3A Final 48 berth in Birmingham in 2010.
This year’s Bulldog senior class was freshmen when Cantrell was a senior. Smith said Cantrell was still “well-known by everybody throughout our school system.”
“It was a tough day (Tuesday at practice),” Smith said. “I expect the next few days will be tough also. Everybody’s hurting. It’s going to take some time to get over it, but I can’t say enough good things about our kids and how they’re handling the situation. They did a much better job yesterday of staying focused than I did.”
Piedmont opens its 2012 football season on Friday at home against longtime rival Cherokee County.