Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

November 30, 2009

EIU football coach killed in I-57 accident

Tony Huffman

The offensive line coach for Eastern Illinois University football Jeffrey O. Hoover, 41, was killed in a car accident on Interstate 57 south of Effingham Saturday.

Hoover, another member of the coaching staff and members of both men’s families were traveling back to Charleston after a football game at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale when their vehicle swerved off the road to avoid a deer.

Several members of Hoover’s family, as well as strength coach Erich Cash, 29, and members of his family, also were injured in the crash.

According to Illinois State Police District 12, Hoover’s wife, Penny, was driving a Chevrolet Suburban northbound on the interstate when she swerved the vehicle in an attempt to avoid a deer in the roadway at mile post 148, near Watson, at 7:43 p.m. The vehicle rolled several times, before landing in the east side of the roadway.

Effingham County Coroner Leigh Hammer pronounced Jeffrey Hoover dead at the scene, resulting from blunt force trauma to the head and chest.

Several other passengers were transported via helicopter and ambulance to St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital and Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.

Driver Penny Hoover, 43, and Sheri Cash, 34, both of Charleston, were flown to Carle Foundation Hospital, and both were listed in fair condition Sunday afternoon.

Strength coach Eric Cash is also at Carle Hospital, where he is in stable condition, according to university officials.

Lauren Hoover, 13, and Cole Hoover, 11, also of Charleston were transported to St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital in Effingham, but have since been released, according to information from the university. A third child, McKinley Cash, 3, of Charleston is being held for observation at Carle Hospital.

Students and staff at the Charleston campus were saddened by the news of Hoover’s death, but it was especially hard on the football players he coached.

“Football coaches around the country turn into a second father for most of us players and for some of us our only father figure. Coach Hoover was that person to many of us,” stated senior offensive lineman Chris Vaccaro in a university press release. “He always had an open door where we could come in and talk to him about anything anytime. He was a great man and a great coach.”

Hoover was in his third season at EIU. Before moving to Charleston in 2007, he worked at Portland State as offensive coordinator.

According to Hammer, the crash has been ruled an accident.

The Illinois State Police and Coroner’s Office are handling the death investigation

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tony Huffman can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 135 or tony.huffman@effinghamdailynews.com