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SMSU men's basketball coach's son killed in crash

Coach Bigler in critical condition

July 30, 2012
By Per Peterson , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - Shock and heartbreak struck the Brad Bigler family for the second time in a little more than a year Saturday night when Drake Phillip Bigler, the five-month-old son of the Southwest Minnesota State University men's basketball coach, was killed in a two-vehicle crash in Pope County.

The head-on crash occurred at 9:25 p.m. Saturday near Starbuck.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Dana Schoen, 38, of Starbuck was traveling southbound on Minnesota Highway 29 in a 2005 Dodge truck, swerved into the northbound lane and struck a 2008 GMC Acadia, driven by Brad Bigler's wife, Heather, who swerved in an attempt to avoid the oncoming car.

Article Photos

Independent file photo

Brad Bigler speaks to media after winning the NSIC Tournament in March. Bigler was critically injured in Saturday’s crash near Starbuck.

There were four people in the Bigler vehicle. Brad Bigler, 33, was in critical condition Sunday afternoon at Avera Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D. He was flown from Alexandria to Sioux Falls, SMSU Director of Athletics Chris Hmielewski said. Hmielewski confirmed that Bigler suffered broken ribs and a broken scapula.

Heather Bigler suffered minor injuries, and a third passenger, Sharon Schuler, 74, of Granite Falls, Heather Bigler's grandmother, was in critical condition at Avera in Sioux Falls, State Patrol said.

"Obviously it's a tragedy when you lose a young family member," Hmielewski said. "The thoughts and prayers of the entire Mustang family and everybody should go out to the Bigler family as they cope with this situation."

Drake Bigler was transported to Glacial Ridge Hospital in Glenwood. He died Sunday. He was born in February, shortly after Bigler's Mustangs upset then 24th-ranked St. Cloud State on Feb. 12.

Brad Bigler lost his mother, Diane Bigler-Hagenow, in a kayaking accident near Sacred Heart in June 2011.

"With all the things the Bigler family went through last year with the passing of Brad's mom, to have another accident " Hmielewski said. "We're going to surround the Bigler family with all the love and support they need, and we encourage everyone to do the same."

The Biglers have two other children, daughter, Taleigha and son, Nash.

Schoen suffered no apparent injuries. There was alcohol detected in his system, State Patrol said.

Hmielewski said he received a text message from the family early Sunday that said Brad Bigler's condition had improved somewhat overnight. He was reported to be awake and coherent.

State Patrol said everyone involved in the crash was wearing their seat belts.

Bigler has been involved with the SMSU men's basketball program as a player, assistant and coach for 14 seasons. He has been the head coach for three years.

Starbuck is located in west central Minnesota, about 93 miles north of Marshall.



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