POSTED: Thursday, January 6, 2011 - 6:21pm
UPDATED: Friday, January 7, 2011 - 2:56pm
EL PASO - Heartbroken. Students at Tornillo High School say they can't believe one of their teachers and coaches is gone.
The entire district is feeling the pain today after 54-year old Bradley Graves was killed in a car crash. Graves wasn't feeling well and left the school Wednesday morning to go home. On his way there Sheriff's Deputies say he crashed into a tree, likely because of his health problems.
"I wouldn't have let him leave. I would have kept him at the nurses office or something," Tornillo High Student Janet Escobedo said.
Escobedo was the last student to talk to graves the day he died.
"He said, "Are you sure everything's covered?" Me and Coach Burris were like "Yeah, we'll see you tomorrow coach. Be careful." He smiled at us and he waived goodbye and that was the last time we ever saw him alive," Escobedo said.
Now all students are feeling the pain of loss, and so are the staff and faculty including athletics director cody burris.
"He just really loved life. He was always making kids laugh, making his fellow teachers laugh also. He just really was a great guy all around," Burris said.
"He taught me lots of lessons, and they're lessons I'm never going to forget," Escobedo said.
Escobedo said Graves' lessons were not out of a textbook.
"He said to be as happy as can be. He said to be like a bird when he finds a french fry," she said.
But for Tornillo High it's hard to be as happy as a bird when the school is left missing and remembering an amazing man, teacher and coach.
"To me he was like Superman. That's how he was. I don't want his memory to die," Escobedo said.
"Once they're a coyote with us, they're always a coyote. We'll always keep him in our memories and thoughts and his family in our prayers," Burris said.
School leaders say Graves was from the Fort Worth area and started teaching in Tornillo this past August. We're told his family is headed to El Paso, and that they may take part in a school memorial Friday night.