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Elementary teacher hit, killed by semi on first day of school

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — An elementary school teacher has been identified as the pedestrian killed by a semi on Interstate 469 early Wednesday.

Cedar Canyon Elementary second-grade teacher Chris Dodane, 43, was walking on the interstate near Stellhorn Road around 7 a.m. Wednesday when he was struck by a northbound semi, Northwest Allen County Schools Superintendent Chris Himsel confirmed Wednesday afternoon. The district’s first day of school was Wednesday. Himsel said he heard the news around 9:30 Wednesday morning.

“Chris did a great job for us,” Himsel said. “He made a positive difference in the lives of kids and that’s what all teachers want to do.”

Dodane, a district teacher since 1995, was pronounced dead at the scene. Most recently, Dodane worked at Cedar Canyon which is where students heard of his passing Wednesday morning.

“We’ll have counselors available for our students,” Himsel said. “Counselors are also available for teachers. We will support them how ever we need to support them so we can make we’re focused on serving the needs of kids.”

Himsel said staff worked to make the first day of school as normal as possible for the students, but the day wasn’t focused on academics.

“It was more focused on how do you deal with life and life happens and I know that kids learned things today,” Himsel said. “I know they were engaged in things that mattered and I know our teachers and our substitutes and our staff out at Cedar Canyon did everything in their power to make sure those kids were cared for and had a healthy and safe learning environment.”

A letter was sent home to parents Wednesday notifying them of Dodane’s death.

Moving forward, Himsel said they’ll do what’s best for the students and honor their teacher’s long legacy as a teacher.

“Chris understood and cared about kids and he’s going to want to make sure that we’re doing our job of making sure that kids are cared for,” Himsel said. “I truly believe that and we’re going to make sure that we hold up that responsibility.”

The Allen County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crash. The department said investigators are working to determine why Dodane, dressed in a red and white striped shirt and dress pants, was along the interstate and what he was doing before he was struck. Anyone with any information is asked to call 260-449-7405.

The incident shut down the northbound lanes of Interstate 469 for more than two hours early Wednesday, and traffic later was being diverted off of the interstate near the crash site. The interstate was reopened just after 9:30 a.m.