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By ESPN Staff
Aug 14, 2007

Bradley cancels scrimmage after player's death

PEORIA, Ill. -- Bradley University has canceled its annual preseason soccer scrimmage, but will open the regular season as scheduled after the death of a player in a fire.

The university also said in a statement Tuesday that it still is reviewing the status of three other Bradley soccer players charged with arson in Sunday's death of Sheridan "Danny" Dahlquist. Authorities said the fire was caused by a botched fireworks prank.

Prosecutors said Dahlquist, a 19-year-old sophomore, died in a fire that started when four friends set off roman candles under his bedroom door as a prank after a night of drinking. Dahlquist was asleep when the fire broke out, but was found near a window, indicating he awoke and tried to escape, prosecutors added.

The four college students were charged Monday with aggravated arson and possession of an explosive or incendiary device.

Bradley soccer players Nicholas Mentgen, 21, Ryan Johnson, 22, and David Crady, 19, were released from jail late Monday and Tuesday morning after posting $500,000 bond, authorities said.

The three, who lived with Dahlquist in an off-campus house in West Peoria, didn't immediately return calls for comment left Tuesday at their parents' Peoria-area homes.

Daniel Cox, 20, who attends Illinois Central College in nearby East Peoria, remained in Peoria County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond, jail officials said Tuesday.

Prosecutors said the men could have faced murder charges, but didn't intend to harm Dahlquist. They tried to rescue him but were chased away by intense heat.

Dahlquist's parents are both longtime employees at Bradley, a private school with about 6,100 students.

"Though this unspeakable tragedy hurts us tremendously, please keep in mind that there are five families that need your prayers," Dahlquist's family said in a statement issued through the university on Tuesday.

Hundreds of mourners gathered for a vigil Monday night on the soccer field at Peoria Notre Dame High School, where Dahlquist graduated in 2006 and helped the school win its first Class A state soccer title in 2004.

"Danny was living his dream. We are proud of the person he was. All the wonderful comments have confirmed that others respected him in the same way," his family said in a statement.

Bradley canceled an annual scrimmage scheduled for Saturday during which the soccer team traditionally makes its season debut.

But the university said the defending Missouri Valley Conference champions will kick off their season Aug. 31 as scheduled against Lipscomb during a two-day tournament at Bradley.

The four men charged in Dahlquist's death are scheduled for preliminary hearings Sept. 13 in Peoria County Court. If convicted, the arson and explosives charges each carry prison terms of up to 30 years.