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High school football coach, former Vashon standout, dies after car accident

High school football coach, former Vashon standout, dies after car accident

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ST. LOUIS — Derrick Mitchell Jr., a former football player at Vashon High School, University of Iowa running back and current high school coach, died on Wednesday after being critically injured in a car crash last week, according to the St. Louis Medical Examiner’s office.

His father, Derrick Mitchell Sr., called his son “phenomenal.”

“He was a great father to his 2-year-old,” Mitchell said on Wednesday.

A woman injured in the same accident was still in critical condition but stable as of Wednesday, police said.

Mitchell was in a Chevrolet Cobalt that was traveling north on North Broadway at about 6:30 a.m. Friday when a Dodge Challenger tried to pass the Cobalt on the left by using the southbound lanes. The Challenger clipped the rear of the Cobalt, causing the Cobalt to spin into the southbound lanes where it was struck by another car. The driver of the Challenger fled the scene.

Mitchell, an assistant coach at Clyde C. Miller Career Academy, was a standout on the Vashon football team, said Reginald Ferguson, who coached Mitchell at Vashon. He could play quarterback, receiver, running back and defensive back, but wasn’t limited to those positions, Ferguson said.

“He was an athlete,” Ferguson said. “He was the kind of kid that never came off the field. He was good in any spot you put him in.”

Mitchell went on to play running back for the University of Iowa, and was Iowa’s leading rusher in the 2015 Big Ten championship game, according to the sports-news website Hawk Central.

He left Iowa after four years to attend the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, where he was the Cardinals’ leading rusher in 2017, according to Hawk Central, running for 601 yards and five touchdowns.

After that, he decided he wanted to be a coach. He became an assistant coach at Miller, in St. Louis, coaching alongside Ferguson, his former high school coach.

“It’s a big loss, not only just for the kids over here at Miller, but just for the community period,” Ferguson said. “He was a guy who had a future in coaching.”

Ferguson said some of the kids on the team were working on making a video to commemorate Mitchell.

“He was a solid person,” Ferguson said. “Hard-working, self-driven. He was the kind of guy who knew what he wanted to do, and he was on his way to doing that.”

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