BROWNSBURG, Ind. (WISH) - Twenty-five year old Jeremy Strange was killed Tuesday morning when his pickup truck was hit by a train in the foggy early morning hours at a seldom-used railroad crossing behind a store, just off Main Street in Brownsburg.
Strange was the coach of the Brownsburg High School rugby club. But because it is a club, it is staffed by volunteers. So Strange had another job, and he had left it for a few minutes Tuesday morning when he was killed.
The turn of events has ripped the hearts out of those who knew and worked with Strange and those who loved him.
Members of the rugby club and their other coaches gathered Tuesday afternoon at Williams Park. It was practice time for the 70 or so members of the team. But Tuesday, no one practiced.
"I don't think I've fully grasped this," said the team's former coach Dan Fiterling. "And I'm supposed to be a grown man and know how to understand this, and I don't."
Fitterling said he is making sure members know there's help through the grief if anyone needs it.
"We just kind of want to make sure they understand what to do and make sure they are all OK," he said, choking with emotion.
Strange was taking a quick break from work when he lost his life, said Vivian Carlson, a family friend.
"I was told by the owner he was here this morning and went into her office to ask if he could go to the gas station to grab something, and he rushed out of here," she said.
As his pickup truck went through the gate and over the railroad crossing that sits only a few feet away, a freight train hit it. Police said Jeremy wasn't wearing his seat belt. He was thrown from the vehicle and killed.
Police also said witnesses heard the train whistle as it went across the crossing.
But back at the park Tuesday afternoon, none of that mattered, because Strange was gone, Fitterling said.
"He was an amazing guy. You know they say - you hear the cliche all the time – ‘He would give you the shirt off his back.' Probably over-used. With him, it's 100 percent accurate," Fitterling said.
Strange was a first-year coach, but he played on the rugby club team throughout his years as a student at Brownsburg, from which he graduated in 2004.
His team this year was so good, it got an invitation to the nationals later this year. The team will decide later if it will attend, but Fitterling said he believes Strange would have wanted the team to compete.
This weekend's game though has been postponed.
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