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ESPN's Olney: Don Meyer's hard road back from the brink

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ABERDEEN, S.D. -- The Toyota Prius slowly drifted across the lane and directly into the path of the oncoming semitrailer truck hauling 90,000 pounds of grain, and Matt Hammer, five cars back, kept waiting for it to jerk back to the right side of the road. Brett Newton, in a car directly behind the veering vehicle, shouted aloud to the driver who could not hear him: "Coach! Coach!"

An explosion, a cloud of metal, and the two driver's-side doors rocketed skyward. The collision of two vehicles moving in opposite directions at more than 50 mph looked like something you see on television, a witness said later.

Hammer pulled off the road and started running toward the Prius, past other cars that had gone into a ditch to avoid the wreckage. He could see that the driver's side was destroyed, crumpled like a soda can. "And on the way there," Hammer remembered later, "I was getting myself ready. I didn't know if I was going to see one of the most influential people in my life dead."

The driver in the wreck on the long, straight South Dakota road on Sept. 5, 2008, was Don Meyer, 64 years old. Husband to Carmen Meyer for 41 years. Father of three, grandfather to eight.

Mentor to hundreds.

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