Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Coach Killed on St. John's Day

High school football coach Ed Thomas, 58, was killed Wednesday, June 24, 2009, in the weight room of his high school in Parkersburg, Iowa. Mark D. Becker, 24, a former Thomas football player, is charged with first-degree murder. He is being held at the Butler County Jail in Allison.

Authorities say Mark Becker was released Tuesday from a hospital where he had been brought for psychiatric evaluation after threatening a man with a baseball bat Saturday night and leading police on a high-speed car chase.

Police say they were supposed to be notified when Becker was fit for release, but that they weren't.

Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo said in a statement Thursday that its staff was not asked to notify authorities before releasing Becker. - SI/CNN reporting on Thursday, June 25th

Coach Thomas stands in the midst of the 2008 rumble caused by a tornado. ESPN.

Thomas was shot multiple times at point blank range, including once in the head, according to the school's business manager Pat Gosch. No one else was injured in the incident, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported.

Sports secretary Sue Muller said Thomas was supervising the early-morning weightlifting in Parkersburg when the shooting happened around 7:45 a.m. About 30 students were present at the time. The school has about 230 students.

The Des Moines Register said the Aplington-Parkersburg High School coach died at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo after being shot at about 8:30 a.m. in the weight room next to the school.

Aplington-Parkersburg school superintendent Jon Thompson told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation would be investigating the shooting, which occurred in front of students.

Named the NFL High School Coach of the Year in 2003, Thomas led his school to nearly 300 victories, and 19 state playoff appearances in his 37-year coaching career. Thomas had coached a few NFL players, including Landon Schrage, Aaron Kampman, Brad Meester, Jared DeVries and Casey Weigmann.

Thomas coached football for 37 years, with a career record of 292-84. He led the Falcons to 19 state playoff appearances and two state titles, in 1993 and 2001.

Coincidentially, exactly one year ago, on June 24, 2008, ESPN published a story on the recovery the town had made from a recent tornado, in large part because of the leadership efforts of Coach Thomas.
It was a just about four weeks ago, on the evening of May 25, when an EF5 tornado, three-quarters of a mile wide, with winds in excess of 200 mph, ripped through this community of 1,900, destroying or damaging nearly half the town. The tornado, which stayed in Parkersburg for 34 seconds before traveling another 43 miles, killed six people and leveled 21 businesses, the city hall and the heart of the community: Aplington-Parkersburg High School.


This is the building -- in the middle of nowhere -- that produced four active NFL players, the fifth-most of any high school in the country.

[Jared] DeVries, Aaron Kampman of the Packers, Casey Wiegmann of the Broncos and Brad Meester of the Jaguars had always given the credit to Ed Thomas, Aplington-Parkersburg's longtime coach. Thomas taught every boy in this town how to play football, but also how to be a man. Now his life lessons were being put to the test, especially when he asked six of his players to dig the graves for those killed by the storm,

wrote Wayne Drehs, ESPN, "Iowa town turns to football to recover from tornado," June 24, 2008.

June 24th is St. John’s Day.

Some previous events on this day include:

Knights Templars display “Mysterious Head” at Poitiers (1308). Founding of the Order of the Garter (1348). John Cabot discovers North America (1497). Galileo released (1633). “Woman of the Wilderness” utopian community arrives in America (1694). “W of W” angelic visions (1701). Grand Lodge of Freemasons inaugurated (1717). Ambrose Bierce born (1842). Red rain, Italy (1877). Ice fall, Ft. Lyon, Colorado (1877). Fall of jelly-like mass, Eton (1911). Fred Hoyle born (1915). Mick Fleetwood (1942) and Jeff Beck (1944) born.

First day of flying saucer history, Mt. Rainier & Mt. Adams, Washington State - Kenneth Arnold sighting (1947). Filmstock fire kills seventeen people, Brussels (1947). Movie theaters evaluated during huge fire, Perth Amboy, NJ (1947). United Airlines plane struck by lightning over Cleveland. Ohio (1947). Invasion of grasshoppers battled with flame-throwers, Guatemala/El Salvador (1947). Woman attacked and killed by bees or wasps, Seattle (1947). Bizarre aerial sightings near Daggett, California (1950) and on Iwo Jima (1953). The Angora Fire (2007) starts near South Lake Tahoe, California, destroying over 200 structures in its first 48 hours.

The deaths of various aerial and related phenomena researchers, writers, and fans (Frank Scully, June 24, 1964; Frank Edwards, near the coming midnight of the 24th, still on June 23, 1967; Arthur Bryant, June 24, 1967; Richard Church June 24, 1967; Willy Ley, June 24, 1969; Jackie Gleason, June 24, 1987). June 24, 2006 saw the death of renegade publisher Lyle Stuart who published anomalist writer Frank Edwards’ Fortean book, in 1959, Stranger than Science, a paperbook full of information on cryptozoology as well as ufology.

Mystery deaths are often associated with St. John's Day.

Respect the wonder of the 24th of June.

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