It's hard to fathom. A gunman walked into a South Florida school and killed seventeen people yesterday. I was covering a track meet when I came home and my wife told me the news. I immediately gave her a hug and a kiss and did the same to my almost four year old son who had just fallen asleep minutes before I came home.
Less than twenty four hours after the tragic event I received a text that one of those that lost their life was Douglas Cross Country Coach Scott Beigel. I never met Coach Beigel, who was shot while trying to let kids into his social studies class and escape the wrath of terror that was unfolding. Selfless. An act of heroism. We see coaches putting their athletes and their kids first on the track or in the field, but this was different, this was life and death.
"Our coach died a hero," senior cross country runner Chad Williams told me. "This was his first year coaching us but he was an amazing coach. He was just a great guy to be around.I got very sick during the season and I just kept running not wanting to rest and he was the one that told me and convinced me to take it easy for real so I would be fine and not mess myself up for the rest of the season."
Williams was on the other side of the campus when the madness was ensuing. He was fortunate. Teammate Maddy Willford who also plays basketball for Douglas, was shot three times.
"She needed three surgeries to get the bullets removed," he said. "I think she will be okay physically, but it's going to take her a while to be ok mentally."
It's been a whirlwind 24 hours, the tragic news has brought an out cry of support from around the running community, the state, the country, and around the world. Tomorrow, he will be donating blood for the patients still wounded, still fighting. It may be a while before running crosses their minds and rightfully so.
"The team is broken and very down right now," Williams noted. "We can't believe this really happened."
Not only did he lose a coach, but one of his best friends also passed away.
"One of my best friends, Joaquin Oliver, died yesterday and I wish I had more time with him," he added. "I was just talking to him two hours before it happened. My message to everyone would be to just cherish every moment with your family and friends and to let go of grudges it's not worth it."
On behalf of everyone at FLRunners and MileSplit our thoughts and prayers go out to the Douglas High School and the surrounding community.