A community is in mourning after the loss of a beloved assistant football coach, just days before Christmas. Jeff Lobato was a coach at Doherty High School in northeastern Colorado Springs.
Lobato was one of two killed in a crash Monday night on Highway 83 just south of Franktown. Three people are still in the hospital following the deadly crash.
Doherty's athletic director tells us Jeff Lobato was driving his family home from their son's basketball game in Denver when they collided with a wrong way driver. Colorado State Patrol tells 11 News 70-year-old Stephen Edwards, of Peyton, was headed northbound on Highway 83 when he crossed the center line and hit the Lobatos' SUV. Both drivers were killed.
Lobato's wife and two kids are still in the hospital with serious injuries. Troopers identified them as Christine Lobato, 47; Jaylin Lobato, 18; and a 15-year-old boy whose name has not been released because he is a minor.
"Jaylin is a freshmen in college at CSU-Pueblo and plays soccer down there," said Doherty's Athletic Director Chris Noll. "And then he has a freshmen son here that is a basketball player and a football player."
The Doherty community is devastated.
"He’s one of our C squad football coaches, which predominantly works with our freshmen," said Noll. "We have over 50 freshmen out for football and Jeff's been working with that group since they were little boys. That group with those coaches have just clicked.”
"We have a saying at Doherty: 'we before me.' ... Jeff truly exemplifies that attitude and that thought process when it comes to working with kids, when it comes to his family, when it comes to our community," said Noll. “Amazing, amazing people that truly believe in putting we before me.”
Noll tells us the Lobato family frequently attends sporting events to support the school.
“Their entire family, including grandparents, were at our girls' basketball game this past Saturday," said Noll. "They don’t have a girls basketball player, but they come and support our community.”
The school opened its doors Tuesday for students to come together. Noll said students made get well cards and posters.
“We preach family and our teams build a culture of family, so when a tragedy like this hits, it hits harder," said Noll. "But family, especially during the holiday season, families come together and families take care of each other and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Noll said the school will continue to reach out and support students through social media until they return from the holiday break.
Troopers say they don't know what caused the crash. They told 11 News they are looking into whether Edwards was speeding. Drugs and alcohol are not suspected in the crash. Troopers also tell us everyone involved was wearing a seat belt.
So far, the community has raised more than $23,000 on a GoFundMe page for the Lobato family. There's a link to it in on the right side of this page.
A tragedy just days before Christmas.
"Holidays are supposed to be a joyous time," said Noll. "In Sparta, it's going to be tough this year."