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Car crash claims Brighton coach

Brighton High School football coach Lynn Freestone was killed Saturday in an automobile accident that also injured his wife and two of their children.

Freestone, 43, was with his family, traveling northbound on U.S. 89, 23 miles south of Panguitch, when a southbound sport-utility vehicle veered across the center line. Freestone and the driver of the other vehicle, Ronald Eugene Bahmer, 59, of St. Cloud, Minn., both died instantly in the head-on collision about 12:15 p.m.Freestone was "a great father and a great family man," said Brighton High School basketball coach Jim Jimas.

"We've been best friends. I'm just devastated," said Jimas, who ate lunch with Freestone almost every day during the school year.

"We've lost not only our head football coach, but we've lost a best friend. Now we have a void in our lives."

Freestone's wife, Sherri, and son, Robert, 15, were in fair condition Saturday night at Garfield Memorial Hospital in Panguitch.

Their son, Greg, 12, suffered broken bones and abdominal injuries and was transported by helicopter to Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City where he was listed in serious condition on Saturday. Brittany, 7, was uninjured and stayed with family Saturday night.

The Freestones were returning from a vacation at Lake Powell.

Marie Bosl, 78, a passenger in Bahmer's vehicle, was taken to Garfield Memorial. The hospital had no report on her condition Saturday. The other passengers were uninjured.

Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Roger Cutler said Bahmer had fallen asleep while driving. Everyone was wearing a seatbelt except Bahmer, UHP Lt. Verdi White II said.

Jimas said he admired Freestone for "always being there" for friends and for "not letting the little things bother him."

After he was hired as head coach in 1988, Freestone was the man most responsible for turning the Bengals into one of the state's powerhouse football programs. The team never had a losing season, and qualified for the playoffs 10 times during Freestone's 11 years at Brighton.

The Bengals went 90-33 under Freestone's tutelage. Though he never got to take his team to a state championship, Brighton grabbed a handful of regional titles and made it to the state semifinals six times.

A highlight of Freestone's coaching career was the 1997 season when Brighton went 11-1, finished second in Class 5A to Skyline and had what many considered the most talented team in the state.

Freestone's name will be revered in the state's high school history book. His career record of 90-33, a .732 winning percentage, made him the seventh most victorious coach in Utah history. His 90 wins, all at Brighton, put him at No. 39 on the all-time wins list.

Before beginning his coaching career, Freestone was a wrestler and a football player at Weber State University.

Freestone was an assistant coach at Brighton High for eight years during the 1980s. He was then hired to replace longtime Bengal head coach Steve Dangerfield following the 1987 season.