The Archbishop Ryan High School and West Chester University communities are mourning the passing of a standout student-athlete who went missing on Saturday and was found dead in the Schuylkill River near the Girard Point Bridge on Sunday.
Authorities have not released details about the death or its circumstances. The Pennsylvania State Police, who are leading the investigation, did not officially release the identity of the victim, but multiple sources have confirmed that it was Sean Boylan, 20, a 2014 Archbishop Ryan graduate.
PSP Capt. Jim Raykovitz said that troopers found an unoccupied 2011 Dodge Caravan parked along the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 on the bridge at 8:48 a.m. Saturday. That night, Boylan’s family took to social media asking for information on the whereabouts of Sean.
The PSP Marine Unit recovered a body from the Schuylkill at about 3 p.m. Sunday. The subject was a short distance downstream from the bridge, about 60 yards from shore and in 33 feet of water, Raykovitz said. There were no signs of foul play.
On Monday, West Chester football coach Bill Zwaan reportedly acknowledged Boylan’s death during a pre-scheduled media day involving the coaches of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. Though entering his third year academically, Boylan had second-year athletic eligibility and was listed as a backup defensive end.
Also Monday, West Chester’s interim president, Christopher Fiorentino, sent a message about Boylan to students and faculty via email.
“Our hearts are heavy with the tragic news of the death of sophomore Sean Boylan,” Fiorentino wrote. “Sean’s untimely passing is a great loss for our community. I know you join me in extending heartfelt condolences and support to Sean’s family and friends, including his Golden Rams football teammates.”
At Ryan, where Boylan also played tight end, he was a co-captain his senior season and a two-time All-Catholic League first team selection. Ryan head coach Frank McArdle described Boylan as a big influence among his peers on and off the field.
“The newspapers picked up on him (in high school) because of football, but his personality is what really made him popular in the building,” McArdle said. “The kids are crushed.”
“I just remember he was a funny kid,” the coach said. “He was quiet, but when he talked to you, he was funny. He was really popular on the team and with the coaches and he was an excellent football player.”
Boylan grew up in the Chalfont section of the Northeast. He attended St. Matthew Grade School in Mayfair. Boylan was the middle of five brothers who all played high school football locally, McArdle said. The oldest, Connor, graduated from North Catholic. After North closed, Patrick, Sean and Liam all played at Ryan. Sean Boylan often visited the Raiders’ training camp after his graduation.
“We would see him every spring and he would stop by,” McArdle said. “This is the first time in probably seven years a Boylan is not going to be on the team. They’re just a great family, super supportive, and each kid was a pleasure to coach.”
From Sunday night through Monday, Boylan’s friends and acquaintances from high school and college expressed their grief in messages on Facebook and Twitter.
The Ryan Quarterback Club posted: “Our deepest sympathies go out to the Boylan family for the tragic loss of their son, Sean ’14. Our prayers are with you.”
Sean Devine tweeted: “My prayers go out to the Boylans. My teammate forever. Fly high brother.”
Ben Simmons tweeted: “Rip Sean Boylan, gone way too soon, prayers out to his whole family, especially my best friend Liam, love you kid. Be strong.”
Steven Hughes posted on the Ryan football in the 70s page: “We lost another fellow alumnus this weekend. He was only 20 years old. Just a KID!!!!! Hug your children every day, pat them on the back, let them know that they’re loved.” ••