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Southwest Minnesota State head coach loses 5-month old son in car accident


Southern Minnesota State head coach Brad Bigler was involved in a two-car accident on Saturday night, one in which his 5-month old son Drake passed away.

According to the SMSU athletic director Chris Hmielewski, Bigler is hospitalized in Sioux Falls, SD with several broken ribs and a broken shoulder blade.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported that in addition to Bigler, his wife Heather suffered minor injuries and grandmother Sharon Schuler is in critical condition.

Dana Schoen, the driver of the other vehicle, was not injured but the State Patrol said that alcohol was found in his system and they suspect that it was a factor in the crash.

The Patrol said the crash occurred in Pope County at about 9:25 p.m. Saturday. Authorities said Schoen was driving southbound on Minnesota Highway 29 south of Starbuck when his Dodge pickup truck swerved into oncoming traffic and struck the northbound GMC Acadia driven by Heather Bigler.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Schoen has two offenses on his record in relation to driving and being under the influence of alcohol.

In 2000 Schoen was convicted of driving under the influence, and in 2005 he was convicted of gross misdemeanor drunk driving.

And in both cases he had a blood-alcohol content of at least 0.20, which is 2.5 times over Minnesota’s legal limit.

Bigler has been the head coach at SMSU for three seasons, leading the Mustangs to a 19-11 record and their third-ever Division II tournament appearance after winning the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament.

“Obviously it’s a tragedy when you lose a young family member,” Hmielewski told the Independent of Marshall.

“The thoughts and prayers of the entire Mustang family and everybody should go out to the Bigler family as they cope with this situation.”

Photo credit: Sioux Falls Business Journal

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.