MMA coach killed when pickup goes airborne, crashes

Posted Oct. 24, 2010, at 10:19 p.m.

PENOBSCOT — An assistant football coach at Maine Maritime Academy died early Sunday morning and another was injured as a result of a traffic accident, according to police.

Richard E. Dykas II, 24, of Dedham, Mass., was behind the wheel of a 1999 Ford Ranger pickup truck when the accident occurred on Route 166 shortly after midnight, according to a prepared statement released Sunday by the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department.

The truck, headed south, went off a left-hand curve and rolled, coming to rest on its roof.

Dykas was pronounced dead at the accident scene.

Deputy Chris Thornton, the primary investigator of the accident, said Sunday that after the truck left the roadway, it went airborne for a short distance over an embankment before it struck another embankment and then rolled into the driveway of a nearby house.

“It was a fairly steep embankment,” the deputy said.

Dykas was partially ejected from the truck during the crash, he said. The truck was destroyed in the accident.

Thornton said police are still investigating whether Dykas and his passenger, Steven F. Nackley, 22, of New Hartford, N.Y., were wearing seat belts when the truck went off the road.

Nackley, who also is an assistant football coach at the school, suffered minor injuries in the accident, according to the sheriff’s department. Nackley was taken by Peninsula Ambulance to Blue Hill Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries, police indicated.

According to the official MMA Athletics website, Dykas graduated from Mount Ida College in Newton, Mass., and coached the defensive secondary of the Mariners’ football team. The website indicates that Nackley graduated from Springfield College and is the MMA team’s halfbacks and wide receivers coach.

Thornton said late Sunday afternoon that he was not sure of Nackley’s medical condition or if he was still at the hospital. He said police hope to talk to Nackley to get information about what may have caused the crash.

As with any fatal automobile accident, police are required to conduct blood tests to see if alcohol may have been a factor, Thornton said. Speed also is routinely looked into as a possible cause in such crashes, he said, but police do not know how fast Dykas may have been driving.

In a prepared statement released Sunday afternoon, MMA officials said that Chris McKenney, head coach of the academy’s football team, held a team meeting Sunday to tell his players what had happened.

Deidra Davis, MMA’s dean of student services, said in the statement that members of the school’s student support team are offering counseling and other services to students affected by Dykas’ death. When Dykas’ family has made and announces memorial arrangements, the school will offer assistance to students who want to attend services, Davis added.

William Brennan, president of MMA, said in the statement that Dykas’ sudden death has affected the entire school.

“Our hearts go out to Richie’s family and friends, as well as to his players and our close-knit coaching staff,” Brennan said. “He was an important member of our community, and the sudden loss of a coach, friend and colleague has been a tremendous blow to the entire Academy family.”

The accident is being investigated by Deputy Chris Thornton and reconstructed by Lt. Patrick Kane and Deputy Jeff McFarland of the sheriff’s department. Sgt. Scott Kane, Deputy Chris Sargent and the Penobscot Fire Department also assisted Thornton at the accident scene.

Maine Maritime Academy had won an important New England Football Conference victory, 28-27 over archrival Massachusetts Maritime at Ritchie Field in Castine on Saturday. The Mariners won the Admiral’s Cup, the trophy awarded to the winner of the annual matchup, for the seventh consecutive year.

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