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An Auburn High School student was killed late Friday night when his vehicle left a local roadway and crashed into a tree, authorities said.

Mark Hartford Daniel, 17, was killed in the accident, which occurred on Lee Road 81 in Auburn.

The rural road also is known as Mrs. James Road, which veers west off of West Farmville Road in northwest Auburn.

“It appears that Daniel may have over-corrected after dropping off the shoulder of the road and caused him to lose control of his Toyota Tacoma pickup,” the Lee County coroner’s office reported. “A passing motorist discovered the accident and called authorities.

“Daniel was wearing a seat belt. Alcohol is not suspected to be a factor in the accident. No other vehicles or injuries were involved.”

He was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

Alabama State Troopers responded to the scene and continue to investigate.

Daniel Chesser, Auburn City Schools spokesman, released a statement Saturday regarding the tragedy, which occurred only days before the new school year begins on Thursday.

“Our hearts are heavy in learning that we have lost one of our young people in a horrific accident,” he said. “We ask that everyone please respect the privacy of the family in this time of grieving.

“With school starting next week our counselors will be prepared to work with students as it relates to this matter, and it is with our deepest condolences that we keep the family close to our hearts.”

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Troy Turner is editor of the Opelika-Auburn News. He previously served as the news editor in New York for the nation's second largest newspaper company, and as the senior editor at several other news entities around the nation. He is an Auburn alum.

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