TRUCKEE, Calif. — When it came to challenging someone in a game of baseball statistics and trivia, the odds were pretty high Andrew Metlenko had your number.
“He would definitely get into a debate with anybody over baseball stats or sports stats,” said his mother, Laura Metlenko. “He would even do algebra with baseball stats — he literally lived his life by baseball.”
Andrew L. Metlenko — remembered by friends and family for his love of sports, the outdoors and constantly smiling and kidding around — died Tuesday evening in a single-vehicle rollover accident, four days shy of graduating from Truckee High School.
He was 18.
Metlenko was the passenger in a 1995 Chevrolet pickup driven by current Truckee High senior Corey Adam Neill when it overturned at about 6:20 p.m. Tuesday west of Stampede Meadows on Sierra County Highway 860, northeast of Truckee.
Metlenko was ejected from the truck and pronounced dead at the scene, according to the California Highway Patrol. Neill, who was wearing a seatbelt, was not hurt.
The preliminary investigation indicates speed was a factor in the wreck, according to CHP. Alcohol did not contribute.
While CHP reported Metlenko was not wearing a seatbelt, an investigation by the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office suggests he was, his parents said Thursday.
Known by friends as “Linko,” Andrew’s biggest passion was baseball, a sport he followed as an Oakland Athletics fan his entire life, and one he competed in as a member of the Truckee High varsity team.
And when he wasn’t playing, he was doing his best to make sure others could.
“He would always want to be there at the Truckee High School field, helping and preparing it, mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, getting it ready,” said Andrew’s father, Michael Metlenko, while choking back tears Thursday afternoon.
Andrew was an avid skier, his parents said, and could be found most winter weekends performing tricks at Northstar or Boreal. He also liked to go fishing with friends, often at Boca and Stampede reservoirs and Donner Lake.
“He was a mountain kid in every sense of the word,” his father said.
Andrew was scheduled to enroll this fall at Santa Rosa Junior College, where he planned to pursue a career in culinary arts.
“His back-up plan was to be a diesel mechanic,” an emotional Laura Metlenko said.
Despite breaking down several times in tears Thursday afternoon, Laura was able to chuckle when talking about Andrew’s positive and fun-focused spirit.
“He was the kind of kid that you’d rarely ever get mad at him, and if you did, it didn’t last very long,” she said. “He’d do something to make me mad, but then he’d just look at me, smile and say something like, ‘Mom you can’t be mad at me,’ and I’d just laugh.”
That humor was what helped define Andrew, said one of his uncles, Matthew Metlenko.
“He was very quick-witted, a very funny kid. He would always try to make light, make jokes of everything, no matter what it was,” Matthew said. “My outlook on life is to try to make the best out of every situation, and that was kind of his personality too — I always told him that.
“You look at all the pictures, and the kid’s always smiling. He was always trying to see the best of everything.”
Metlenko was to be among 155 seniors graduating Saturday from Truckee High School. The school will honor him with a moment of silence at the ceremony, which starts at 11 a.m. at the football team’s Surprise Stadium.
Metlenko’s chair will be set aside, adorned with his cap and gown, said Rob Leri, superintendent of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. Further, his diploma will be the first awarded and will be accepted by his brothers, Trevor, 15, and Cole, 10.
“We as a community are shocked and saddened at the tragic loss of Andrew, especially at the close of the school year,” Leri said Thursday.
Leri said he has spent the past few days on campus and has “seen firsthand the grief of Andrew’s classmates, and his friends and family who’ve come for support.”
The family also has scheduled a celebration of Andrew Metlenko’s life, at noon on Saturday, June 22, at Surprise Stadium. Friends and family are encouraged to attend.
“My outlook on life is to try to make the best out of every situation, and that was kind of his personality too — I always told him that. You look at all the pictures, and the kid’s always smiling. He was always trying to see the best of everything.”