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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Sad Day

Landon Brownell
Photo: Chess Life Online

I was notified yesterday of the tragic passing of 19-year-old Landon Brownell, who had been an integral part of the powerful Catalina Foothills High School chess teams which won three national titles between 2005 and 2008.

A Bakersfield, California website reported that Landon "became fatigued and dozed off" while driving. Ironically, friend and fellow chess master Elliott Liu just finished taking a class on sleep deprivation at Stanford University. His professor stressed the highly dangerous effects of inadequate sleep when driving, claiming that it is even more dangerous than driving drunk, as horrendous as that is.

"To have Landon fall asleep at the wheel, mirroring exactly what we learned in class, hits me hard," said Liu. "[My professor's] persistent message just turned into reality for me. We will all miss Landon greatly."

Catalina Foothills coach Robby Adamson has written a touching memorial to Landon at Chess Life Online. May his family, which has suffered too many tragedies, be comforted by his memory, and may we all learn to avoid such preventable accidents.

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