Chesterton Tribune

Teacher and coach Todd Talbert killed in collision Wednesday

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Whether it was on the court or in the classroom, Todd Talbert made an impact on many he came in contact with at Chesterton High School. Although his life was cut short yesterday in a tragic traffic accident, the lessons he taught will carry on through the students he touched.

At approximately 1:03 p.m. (EDT) Talbert, 40, of 1601 Fox Point Drive in Chesterton, was southbound on Ind. 1 in Dearborn County in southeastern Indiana when he crossed the center lane in his Dodge Intrepid and was struck by a northbound semi-tractor trailer hauling hot liquid asphalt, Sgt. Richard Bower of the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Police (DCSP) said.

Talbert, a math teacher at Chesterton High School and freshman girls basketball coach, was pronounced dead at the scene.

His daughter, Katie Talbert, 15, and her daughter’s friend, Angela Hollinger, 15, of 341 Windermere in Jackson Township, were riding in the back seat of the Intrepid. Both sustained injuries and were transported to Dearborn County Hospital and then to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. As of early this morning, Bower said, “both girls were stable and nothing is believed to be life-threatening at this time.”

Katie Talbert is currently in fair condition and Angela Hollinger is in critical condition.

All three were wearing seat belts and Talbert’s air bag deployed, Bower said. An autopsy had been scheduled for today.

The driver of the semi, Jospeh Hazel, 39, of Brownsburg, Ind., was not injured in the accident.

Although the cause of the crash remains under investigation, Bower said, it occurred during a heavy rain and Talbert may have lost control of his car after hydroplaning. An accident reconstructionist from the Indiana State Police is assisting the DCSP with the investigation and Bower hopes to have a final determination on the cause of the crash by early next week.

Talbert, an outstanding teacher who was well liked and respected by both the faculty and the student body, has been with the Duneland School Corporation for nine years. He was set to take over as head coach of the girls junior varsity basketball team this season.

Chesterton High School athletic director Garry Nallenweg said Talbert “coached a little bit everything.”

“He was involved with wrestling, football, girls basketball, girls track and was just a real student-of-the-game,” Nallenweg said.

“Basketball though, really became his new passion. He was intense on what he wanted to teach and he had a special way of touching the lives of the students he came in contact with. He was invaluable to Chesterton High School and will sorely be missed, not just because of what he did, but just because he was fun to be around. Whether it was in the classroom or on the court, Todd was always there for the kids.”

Talbert, along with his daughter Katie and Hollinger were en route to a college point guard camp in North Carolina at the time of the accident. Todd was going to sit in on a coaching clinic, while the girls participated in the basketball camp.

According to Nallenweg, Talbert was always trying to enhance his knowledge on the game of basketball.

“Todd, Jack (Campbell) and Fred (Mitchell) were always sitting around throwing X’s and O’s on the board,” Nallenweg said. “They were always trying to learn and do whatever they could to improve.”

Nallenweg added that Talbert was also a regular in meetings with the coaches before school in the athletic office.

“Every morning, we all sat around and laughed and joked talking about the events from the night before,” Nallenweg said. “It was a tremendous social gathering before school and after hours. We’re all really going to miss him. He was a great asset to the athletic department.”

Cassie Peller, fellow track and cross country teammate of Katie, said coach Talbert was a selfless person who always put everyone else first.

“He was so supportive to the teams and the individual athletes at Chesterton High School,” Peller said. “I can’t recall a single meet he wasn’t at cheering and helping out. He was well-respected by everyone, because he got to know each and every student and didn’t leave anyone out.”

Talbert with his wife Susan, a science teacher at Chesterton High School, for a number of years led a group of middle-schoolers on an annual tour of Washington D.C. Last year, in February, a blizzard stranded his group.

Funeral arrangements are still pending, however, visitation appears to be slated for White/Love Funeral Home in Chesterton, and the burial itself will be in Morristown.


Posted 6/10/2004