A Doane College football player who died after falling out of a pickup truck is being remembered as a fine athlete and wonderful young man.
Cody Fanning, 20, a junior from Wauneta, Neb., died at BryanLGH Medical Center West in Lincoln of head injuries, as first reported by doaneline.com, a student-run website.
Fanning was injured when he fell from the back of a pickup truck about 2:45 a.m. at the intersection of 13th Street and Iris Avenue near the Doane campus in Crete.
A memorial service is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Wauneta-Palisade High School in Fanning's hometown. Doane football coach Matt Franzen said he expected all or most members of the Tiger football team to attend.
Franzen called Fanning a young man of “exceptional character” whose loss is being felt throughout the entire campus.
“A whole lot of people are grieving on campus today because Cody wasn't just a football player,” Franzen said. “He got along with everyone who carried the same positive spirit that he did. It didn't matter what they looked like and it didn't matter what color they might be.”
At 5-foot-6 and 155 pounds, Fanning didn't seem to fit the mold of a college football player — especially as a linebacker. But Franzen said Fanning made up for his lack of size and was a two-year starter for the Tigers.
“He overcame his (lack of) size with pure effort and heart,” Franzen said. “He was always going 100 mph. He was also exceptional in the classroom and was named to the (Great Plains Athletic Conference) all-academic team.”
Crete Police Chief Steve Hensel said Fanning was one of six people in the vehicle when the accident occurred.
Fanning was first taken to the Crete Area Medical Center by private vehicle and later transferred to the Lincoln hospital.
The pickup driver, Cody Barnes of Elwood, Neb., was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and taken to the Saline County Jail. Barnes is a member of the Doane football team.
“I've been here 17 years and I can't think of another instance when someone (from the school) was killed or badly injured,” Hensel said. “It's just a tragic incident.”
Hensel said police were told that Fanning was among a group of students returning from a bonfire party outside of town that was a precursor to the college's annual Stop Day on Thursday.
One day each spring, the Student Congress president is allowed to call off classes, allowing students time to relax, enjoy games and activities, and mentally prepare for final exams.
A prayer service for Fanning was held on campus in the Cassel Open Air Theatre on Thursday afternoon. Some campus activities planned for Stop Day were canceled.
“The kids usually play a lot of games and relax,” Hensel said. “Just like college kids do everywhere.”
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