TRAFALGAR, Ind. (WISH) — Neil Sego was a beloved father, husband, brother, son, uncle, friend and coach.
The list of roles he filled in the lives of loved ones is lengthy. But one stood out, according to his brother Scott Sego.
Neil, the oldest of five, stepped in as a paternal figure for his brothers and sister after their father passed away, guiding the family through grief and darkness, Scott told News 8.
“[Neil] was always the rock,” he said. “He was always the leader. He took over for dad. We just, like ducklings, followed behind him.”
Scott was only two years younger than Neil but called him his childhood “defender,” recalling how he took him to school and intervened when he was bullied.
On Friday, Scott stepped in as a father figure for Neil’s sons. He attended senior night at Indian Creek High School for his 17-year-old nephew the day after Neil was killed in a tragic accident near Lansing, Michigan.
Six men, all from central Indiana, were on board a single-engine aircraft when it crashed Thursday around 9 a.m. en route to Capital Region International Airport.
The cause of the accident remained under investigation Friday night.
Three men were killed, according to the Clinton County Sheriff’s office:
Neil Sego, 46, of Trafalgar
John Lowe, 51, of Greenwood
Timothy Clark, 67, of Franklin
Three survivors were rushed to a Lansing hospital in critical condition:
Joel Beavins, 48, of Franklin
Aaron Blackford, 42, of Frankton
Zechariah Bennett, 27, of Plainfield
Fearing the worst, Neil and Scott’s youngest brother began driving to Michigan as soon as he learned about the plane crash, before authorities had identified the victims.
Neil died beside his best friend, John Lowe, his family said.
The two men, both employees at The Engineering Collaborative, were traveling for work and planned to return in time for Neil to attend senior night and the Indian Creek football game.
Instead of jerseys, more than 20 members of Neil’s extended family wore “In Loving Memory of Neil Sego” sweatshirts to Friday night’s game.
Dozens of young wrestlers and football players Neil had coached also considered him “family,” Scott told News 8.
“[Neil] never met a stranger,” he said. “He had hundreds of friends, everywhere. We don’t feel like he’s really gone.”
Neil’s wife, Nicole, thanked loved ones and community members for their prayers and condolences in a statement shared with News 8.
“I am overwhelmed by and deeply appreciative of all the love from everyone,” Nicole wrote. “Neil touched so many lives. He was a wonderful husband, father, son, brother and friend. Please keep our families and the families of the others who lost their lives in this tragic accident in your prayers. RIP my love.”