A four-vehicle accident claimed the life of West Platte football coach Nate Danneman the evening of Wednesday, April 19.
The crash occurred about one mile south of Camden Point, Mo. on Interstate 29, shutting down both southbound lanes and one northbound lane at about 7 p.m. Authorities initially indicated one semi and two passenger vehicles were involved, later adding a third passenger vehicle to the official accident report.
According to reports, a semi apparently traveled out of the northbound lanes of I-29 and struck three vehicles before overturning. Danneman was driving a Ford Focus with his 3-year-old daughter as a passenger.
Danneman was identified as the victim in the early morning hours Thursday. He was pronounced dead at the scene at the age of 37.
Three others suffered minor injuries in the crash, including Danneman's daughter.
A native of St. Louis and a graduate of Rockwood Summit High School, Danneman spent the past four seasons coaching football and wrestling at West Platte. He came to the Bluejays after stints as an assistant with Marshall and Richmond and then two years as a head coach at Drexel, going 17-4 with the Bobcats.
“I am very excited for the opportunity to help continue the established tradition and reputation of the West Platte Bluejays football program," he said in a news release when hired at West Platte in 2013. "I look forward to getting to know the students, and I am anxious to help train, develop and condition them for top performance. I also look forward to participating in the highly-competitive KCI Conference, and I am excited about the opportunities it provides.”
Danneman compiled a 20-28 record at West Platte, leading the Bluejays to Class 1 District 7 titles and quarterfinal appearances in 2013 and 2015.
In addition to head football coaching duties, Danneman was an assistant coach for wrestling and was in the chair in 2016 when Justin Rhodes became the first individual state champion in program history. Danneman took over the head coach duties this past season when a need arose for West Platte.
The decision fell in line with Danneman's good nature.
Honest at all times, Danneman was known for his jovial demeanor and never-ending optimism. West Platte twice made runs into the playoffs with a losing record, both times nearly pulling an upset over highly ranked Hamilton.
West Platte struggled to a 1-9 season, but Danneman maintained his humor, offering a simple vision late in the regular season for where he wanted his team to be when Class 1 District 7 play started.
“Playing,” he said with a laugh. “We’ve got to get through these next two weeks and just stay healthy, and if they offer us to play first round, we’ve got to play a game.”
News started to reach the West Platte community late Wednesday night, and many went to social media to express condolences and grief.
"All we can do is remember the good times and be thankful for what we have," a tweet from 2015 West Platte graduate Clay Lambrecht read.
"This can't be happening," West Platte senior Kyle Tabaka tweeted.
"You don't truly know what someone means to you until they're gone," tweeted Tanner Lintner, another 2015 graduate.
Danneman played collegiate football at Missouri Valley in Marshall, Mo., earning defensive MVP honors as a middle linebacker after his junior season in 2000. He also earned All-Heart of America Athletic Conference honors and served as team captain during his tenure.
After graduating in 2002, Danneman began his high school coaching career, spending time with football, wrestling and track and field teams during the next 15 years.