Stunned silence was all that came forward from the Gary basketball community after learning of the death of Lighthouse boys basketball coach Marvin Rea on Tuesday.
Pain and tears were shared by most.
"Shock, complete shock, I can't believe it," said Tyrone Robinson, Bowman Academy coach. "Right now, I'm hurting real bad."
Rea, 49, of Gary, and Kelli Nicole Bradley, 34, of Gary, were killed in a five-vehicle pileup about 3:20 p.m. Tuesday on southbound Interstate 65 in Tippecanoe County, near the Ind. 26/172 exit, according to Indiana State Police.
A white 2007 Freightliner semi pulling an intermodal trailer, a red 1998 International semi pulling a flatbed and Rea’s 2006 red Cadillac CTS all were stopped in the left lane because of a crash farther south when they were rear-ended by a white 2017 Chevrolet box truck and a white 2017 Freightliner semi pulling a car hauler, police said.
The car hauler’s driver, a 31-year-old Plainfield, Indiana, man, was distracted and did not see traffic had come to a stop, police said.
It remained unclear whether Rea’s car was first hit by the box truck, or if the box truck was pushed into Rea’s car by the car hauler, police said.
Rea’s car was crushed between the box truck and the flatbed trailer in front of him, killing him and Bradley, a passenger, police said.
The white box truck was spun around, becoming pinned between the flatbed trailer and the car hauler. The car hauler came to rest partially through a guardrail, police said.
The impact also pushed the red international semi into the intermodal trailer.
The box truck driver, a 62-year-old Missouri man, and the Plainfield man were taken to hospitals, police said. The drivers of the two semis at the front of the pileup were not injured.
The crash forced police to shut down I-65 in both directions for several hours.
Bradley was a seventh-grade teacher at Block Middle School in East Chicago. Her loss has greatly impacted those who loved her in that community, a colleague said in an email to The Times.
Robinson and Rea played together at Roosevelt in the 1980s. Under coach Ron Heflin, Rea led the Panthers to the 1987 final four, where Rea was selected as the IHSAA Mental Attitude Award winner.
Rea then played for Gene Keady at Purdue.
Rea and Robinson started coaching together in 1996 in the AAU circles with the Falcons. The two moved on to Bowman Academy and the seeds of a dynasty were planted in 2007 when the Eagles began playing high school basketball.
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Bowman boys basketball coach Marvin Rea and players react after the Eagles pulled within five points during the last moments of the Class 3A Championship in Indianapolis on Saturday, March 29, 2014. Despite losing to Greensburg, the Eagles have a shot at moving up to Class 4A.
Bowman coach Marvin Rea talks to the crowd during a pep rally celebrating the basketball team's first time competing for the state championship in 2010.
Bowman Academy coach Marvin Rea, right, is greeted by Russel Watkins when his Eagles played Carmel in a showdown of defending state champions in January 2014. The Greyhounds beat the Eagles 74-52.
Bowman coach Marvin Rea, middle, and his crew, from left, Darrion Riddle, Austin Daniels, Davon Dillard, Justin King, Arthur Haggard and Anthony Cole were ready for business before the start of the 2013-14 season. The Eagles, in their first year in Class 3A, went on to play defending state champion Greensburg in the state championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Bowman Academy coach Marvin Rea cuts down the net after his team's 86-73 Class 2A boys basketball state championship win over Linton-Stockton at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Saturday, March 28, 2013.
Bowman Academy senior boys varsity basketball players joke around with each other and head coach Marvin Rea in December 2009.
Bowman head coach Marvin Rea watches his team from the sideline on Tuesday during a game against East Chicago Central in 2010.
Bowman Academy head coach Marvin Rea talks with Eagles assistant Derrick Robinson after a March 2012 practice as the two prepared for the Class 2A state championship game against Indianapolis Park Tudor.
Bowman head coach Marvin Rea watches his team from the sideline on during the first period of their game against East Chicago Central in 2010.
Bowman Academy's head coach Marvin Rea, center, rallies the team, including player Cylk Joseph, second from right, before the start of the second half during Bowman Academy's 81-67 win against Elkhart in the 11th annual Region Roundball Rumble Friday, January 1, 2010 at Valparaiso University.
Lighthouse coach Marvin Rea chats with William Woodland, left, and Jonquell Dawson during a Class 3A Clark Sectional semifinal at the Hammond Civic Center on March 3, 2017.
Bowman coach Marvin Rea and his crew (l-r) Darrion Riddle, Austin Daniels, Davon Dillard, Justin King, Arthur Haggard and Anthony Cole were ready to bump up to Class 3A in the 2013-14 season.
Marvin Rea tosses a basketball during the first day of practice for the Lighthouse boys basketball team on Nov. 7, 2016.
Former Bowman Academy boys basketball coach Marvin Rea runs plays with Lighthouse Academy players as he conducts his first practice at Lighthouse Academy on Nov 7, 2016. After taking Bowman to four state championship games, he plans on bringing the same success to Lighthouse.
Former Bowman Academy coach Marvin Rea holds the state Class A championship trophy after the 2010 finals. He was killed in a traffic accident on Tuesday on I-65, near Lafayette
Former Bowman Academy boys basketball coach Marvin Rea conducts his first practice at Lighthouse Academy on Nov 7, 2016.
Marvin Rea, far left, watches players run drills at Lighthouse Academy during his first practice at the school on Nov 7, 2016.
Bowman Academy head coach Marvin Rea, right, instructs his players against Park Tudor in the IHSAA Class 2A state finals in Indianapolis in March 2012.
Marvin Rea talks with player Teddy McGhee as he conducts his first practice at Lighthouse Academy on Nov 7, 2016.
Bowman Academy coach Marvin Rea has some words for his players during a game against Andrean on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014.
Bowman Academy head coach Marvin Rea has some words for his players during a game against Andrean in Merrillville on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014.
Bowman head coach Marvin Rea celebrates after his team got a five-second call on Greensburg at the start of the third quarter of the Class 3A State Championship on Saturday, March 29, 2014.
Bowman Academy coach Marvin Rea talks to his team during a fourth-quarter timeout against South Bend St. Joseph during the Class 3A Kankakee Valley Regional final on Saturday, March 15, 2014.
Bowman Academy coach Marvin Rea directs his players against Griffith during the semifinals of the Class 3A Hammond Sectional on Friday, March 7, 2014
Bowman Academy coach Marvin Rea prepares before a game at Carmel near Indianapolis in January 2014. The Eagles have traveled close to 20,000 miles to play games in the regular season during Rea's first seven seasons at the helm.
Bowman Academy coach Marvin Rea was not happy with some of the calls in the game at Carmel in January 2014.
Bowman Academy coach Marvin Rea cheers his team on to victory in the 2010 IHSAA Class A State Championship.
Bowman coach Marvin Rea and his crew (left to right) Darrion Riddle, Austin Daniels, Davon Dillard, Justin King, Arthur Haggard and Anthony Cole were ready for business prior to the start of the 2013-14 season.
Bowman Academy head coach Marvin Rea talks to his team during the Eagles' 69-64 win over Tipton in the Class 2A Northern Semistate at Lafayette Jefferson High School in March 2012.
Bowman Academy head coach Marvin Rea reacts to a call in the Class 2A Northern Semistate at Lafayette Jefferson High School in March 2012. The Eagles topped Tipton 69-64 to advance to the state finals.
Bowman Academy fans mob head coach Marvin Rea after the Eagles' 69-64 win over Tipton in the Class 2A Northern Semistate in March 2012.
Bowman head coach Marvin Rea on the sideline in Bowman's 85-80 win over E.C. Central at Bowman on Tuesday, February 21, 2012.
Bowman Academy basketball coach Marvin Rea talks about the school's four D-I signees in 2011. DeJuan Marrero (DePaul), Elijah Ray (IUPUI), Stephan Hawkins (Robert Morris) and Princess German (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) all signed to play college basketball.
In 2010, Rea won the Class A state championship with a 74-52 win over Barr-Reeve. Two years later, Bowman lost to Park Tudor in the Class 2A state final. In 2013, Bowman and Rea returned to the 2A state final and beat Linton-Stockton 86-73.
Then, remarkably, in 2014 Bowman returned to state in the Class 3A championship and lost to Greensburg 89-76.
But getting to state four times in five years is almost unprecedented.
"He built a dynasty," Robinson said. "He was so respected around Indiana."
Longtime friend and assistant coach at Lighthouse, Kenya Stines, could hardly speak on Wednesday morning. He said counselors have been assembled at the Gary charter school to help students deal with this tragedy.
"All the kids were calling (Tuesday night) and wanting me to tell them something different," Stines said. "They were saying, 'Don't call me with this news.' But I gotta be strong for these kids."
Lighthouse is scheduled to play at Marquette Catholic on Friday night, and athletic director Quincy Taylor said that the players voted unanimously to keep the scheduled game. Taylor also said administrators from his school worked with counselors to help the student athletes with their mourning. His Lions were devastated when Taylor arrived at the school.
"We told them it's tough, they're going to hurt," Taylor said. "But we have to remember how Marvin lived his life. He was fun. Charismatic. He had a unique voice in the gym. He lived every day of his life to the fullest and that's what we have to do now."
Taylor, who coached Lighthouse from 2014 through 2016, said no decision was made on Wednesday about who would officially be named the Lions' head coach. He said the adults were too sad to think about that. But he expects Lighthouse's administration would make a call on that Thursday.
Stines and Rea were also teaming with East Chicago's E'Twaun Moore, of the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans, to start a youth league in Gary in the spring.
"I'm getting calls from everywhere," Stines said. "People can't believe it. It's so sad. I lost my friend."
Times staff writer Sarah Reese contributed to this report.