Wednesday, Jun. 13 2012 11:36AM
‘A feeling of sadness’
Mother, former coach of man killed in accident speak out
By Toriano Porter
Fragments of glass lay on the pavement near where JoAnn Rickner’s son Sam, and his friend, Nathan Wright lost their lives early Sunday morning.
A bouquet of flowers adorn the guard rail that Lee’s Summit Police Department officials said Wright hit after losing control of his vehicle after trying to make a left turn onto northbound Missouri 291 from S.W. Oldham Parkway, an outer road that runs along U.S. 50 through Lee’s Summit.
The single-vehicle accident claimed the lives of both Sam Rickner and Wright, both 23, and both 2007 graduates of Lee’s Summit High School.
“They’ve been friends since elementary or junior high,” JoAnn Rickner said Tuesday. “They really became close in high school football and they maintained that friendship...They were like brothers. They did everything together. Nathan’s parents took Sam on vacation with them one year. They were like brothers from another mother. They were close.”
According to police officials, officers with the Lee’s Summit Police Department were called to the area of M-291 and SW Oldham Parkway around 2:10 a.m. Sunday on a report of single vehicle accident.
The preliminary investigation indicates that the car was traveling eastbound on Oldham Parkway when Wright, the driver, attempted to make a left turn to proceed north on M-291. Wright lost control of the vehicle which slid across the intersection and struck a guard rail.
The vehicle overturned once before coming to rest against the guard rail.
Both Wright and Rickner were pronounced dead at the scene.
Lee’s Summit Police Sgt. Chris Depue said Tuesday that the investigation into the cause of the accident continues but an initial report indicates that speed may have played a role in the accident. Depue added police will await the full report from the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the exact cause and that process normally takes between 6-8 weeks.
“I was just devastated,” Mike Spiegel, former teacher and football head coach at Lee’s Summit High School, said upon hearing the news of Rickner and Wright’s deaths. Spiegel coached both Rickner and Wright. “Sam and Nathan are two young men who lives were cut short and it just really hits home. It was just gut-wrenching when I heard their names. I couldn’t describe the feeling. It’s just a feeling of sadness.”
Spiegel added Rickner was an all-conference performer for the Tigers as an offensive lineman, and described him as an exemplary teammate on and off the field.
“Sam and Nathan were great kids,” Spiegel said. “Sammy had a passion for Tiger football. He was with that class that went 8-2 (in 2006) and brought us a lot of football success. What Sam brought to the table was his intelligence, his knowing the game. Sammy was just one of those kids that was on top of his mental game in football. Of course he gave you everything he had on the football field and during the off-season. He was a really solid player for us. This is a tragic loss – him and Nathan.”
JoAnn Rickner said the families will hold visitation and funeral services for Rickner and Wright together. Visitation is Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Grace United Methodist Church, 2400 E. U.S. 50 in Lee’s Summit, and funeral services are set for Friday at 10:00 a.m. at Grace United Methodist.