ASBURY PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There is sadness in several New Jersey communities following the death of a popular football coach who was killed while trying to help others.
The pain was written on their faces on Monday. Football players were told how their beloved assistant coach was killed on the Garden State Parkway.
“What he did…how he died…trying to help somebody else…if we could take a piece of that…you will become a better person,” one of the coaches said Monday.
John Key had just started coaching at Asbury Park High School this year. He last was seen on the sidelines over this past weekend.
On Sunday morning, the 37-year-old was hit by a Mercedes Benz on the Garden State Parkway after getting out of his car and walking across the highway to check on people inside a Honda he had an accident with. The impact of the collision sent the Honda across the roadway.
“As he went everything was okay with the other occupants of the vehicle and as he was running back to his car another vehicle stuck him,” Key’s cousin, Sean Key Bradforth, told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.
“He’d do anything for anyone, would just give the shirt off his back. I’m gonna miss him.”
State Police said the Mercedes Benz stopped. Friends said to understand the scope of the tragedy you have to know the kind of man Key was.
“He was a do-gooder from what I understand. His immediate reaction was to go and see if the people in the other car were okay,” district Superintendent Dr. Denise Lowe said.
“Sounds like John. He would check to make sure everyone was okay. He would help if he could,” childhood friend Kelly Weldon added.
Key, a fifth-grade teacher at the middle school in Asbury Park, was a football star himself when he attended Ocean Township High School. Students said he wasn’t just a coach, but a motivator as well.
“He always showed that he cared. He’s just the kind of guy you wanted around to keep your hopes up,” football player Domingo Perez said. “We know he’s watching above all right now. He loves us very much and we miss him.”
Students in all of the schools Key coached and taught are receiving counseling. Key leaves behind an 8-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son. As a tribute to him, the team will ask them to toss the coin in their next game.
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