A Kamiakin High School senior who died in a hunting accident last week was named as the school’s homecoming king Thursday night.
Cooper Ellison and his girlfriend, Unique Zier, both 18, were elected king and queen by their fellow students.
Unique accepted the award in front of a crowd of people wearing camouflage to remember Cooper’s love of hunting — following a moment of silence that left Lampson Stadium quiet.
“It meant a lot to his girlfriend,” Cooper’s father, Aric, said before the ceremony. “We felt it was the right thing to do, and it was what he wanted.”
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The relationship between Cooper and Unique was special, and they were inseparable, Aric said. The two had been dating since middle school and were perennial royalty nominees.
Cooper wanted to call her while he was on a hunting trip with his family on Oct. 14, but couldn’t get a cellphone signal in the remote community of Hay, Aric said.
The community is located in unincorporated Whitman County, about nine miles outside the town of LaCrosse.
Cooper left the camp in an ATV searching for a signal and drove up a steep hill, Whitman County Coroner Peter J. Martin said. The vehicle rolled as he was driving down. He was thrown from the vehicle and it rolled on top of him.
When he didn’t return, his family discovered him under the ATV, where he had suffocated.
In the week since his death, he was remembered in a candlelight vigil, and the spirit rock at Kennewick High School was painted, “Rest easy Coop.” Rocks at Southridge, Kamiakin and Pasco high schools were painted as well.
Cooper and Unique had been nominated for homecoming royalty for the fourth and final time before the accident. Their names were still on the ballots that students received Monday, and student body representatives assured their peers that it wasn’t a mistake.
Madison Morgan, a junior at Kamiakin, said Cooper was popular at the school.
Aric described his son as a person with a huge heart, especially for people less fortunate than he was.
“He really took a liking to other students that maybe had a disability,” he said.