Tragedy struck a small Nebraska town on Friday when two high school basketball coaches were killed and eight of their athletes were injured after a van carrying the team collided with a pickup truck on a state highway.
As reported by the Associated Press and a variety of other sources, the accident in Ansley, Neb. involved a van carrying the Broken Bow (Neb.) High basketball coaches and team on its way back from a basketball camp. Zane Harvey, the team's 38-year-old assistant coach, was driving the van while 24-year-old head coach Anthony Blum was his front seat passenger. Both were apparently killed on impact.
Five Broken Bow student athletes remained hospitalized on Friday night, though only one was listed in critical condition. Two other athletes had already been released from the hospital shortly after the accident. The whereabouts of the eighth student riding in the van were not clear in reports.
The driver of the pickup truck, a 70-year-old man named Albert Sherbeck, was also killed in the head-on accident.
The father of Broken Bow player Jaden Garey, the only athlete who didn't return from the camp on the team van, spoke to the Omaha World-Herald about the accident, explaining that his own son's avoidance of the tragedy only went a small way to mitigate how he felt for the parents of all the other players on the team.
"You put yourself ... right in the place of those other parents," Brian Garey told the Nebraska newspaper.
The school held a vigil for the two coaches and injured players on Saturday morning, with grief counselors available for anyone who sought their help.
"It was a horrible accident. It will impact the community for a long time to come," Broken Bow Superintendent Virginia Moon told a Friday news conference.
While the two coaches may be most recognized for their role with the basketball program, both Harvey and Blum had developed larger roles in the Broken Bow community and the area writ large. In addition to his role as a basketball assistant, Harvey was also an assistant football coach and head boys golf coach while teaching math at the school.
As for Blum, the young coach was in his first season leading the Broken Bow program after serving as an assistant at another Nebraska high school. The Indians finished the 2011-12 season 5-15, a record consistent with their previous two campaigns, which were led by former coach Mike Buckles.
There was no indication that there was any alcohol or other foul play involved in the collision, as a Nebraska state patrolman made clear to Nebraska NBC affiliate KHAS.
"At this point we do not suspect any alcohol usage we're awaiting test results to come back to confirm that," said Sgt. Robert Rose with the Nebraska State Patrol. "At this point we are not sure what the speeds involved were though we suspect they were right around standard highway speeds 60 to 65 miles per hour."
While there was is no replacing the departed coaches, the school now will have to quickly rally to the aid of the injured students from the crash, with the desperate hope that no one else will be lost in the Midwestern tragedy. At the same time, other students will have to cope with the loss of two prominent members of the tight-knit school community while helping classmates adjust and recover from a deeply traumatic event.
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