MOUNT CARROLL – Authorities still are piecing together the accident that killed Bruce Scheidegger, a longtime area high school coach.
Scheidegger, 54, was reported missing late Saturday night and was found in his vehicle, which had gone over a steep embankment and overturned north of Mount Carroll, at 12:16 p.m. Sunday, Carroll County sheriff's officials told the Chicago Tribune.
Scheidegger last spoke with his wife about 8 p.m. Friday and did not return home Saturday afternoon as expected, authorities said. He was in Rockford for the state girls bowling tournament but was supposed to return for another school-related event Saturday, authorities said.
His wife, Debbie, reported him missing to the Orland Park Police Department at 10 p.m. Saturday. Police passed on the report to the Carroll County Sheriff's Department late Saturday night. Scheidegger lives in Orland Park but also has a home in Lake Carroll.
“He was supposed to have been back to Orland Park around noon on Saturday and he didn’t show up,” Carroll County Sheriff Jeff Doran told the Tribune.
"It was totally out of character for him not to communicate with people," Orland Park police Cmdr. John Keating said.
Orland Park police tracked his cellphone to the Mount Carroll-Lake Carroll area, Keating said. Carroll County sheriff's deputies searched the rural area for hours, Doran said. Authorities passed the area – Loran Road near Indian Trail Road, north of Mount Carroll – three or four times before a deputy noticed a suspicious-looking track, Doran told the Tribune.
Scheidegger's black Toyota Camry was found in a ravine; he was inside and pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy conducted Monday confirmed he died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash; he sustained trauma to his chest, the Carroll County Coroner's Office said. Scheidegger was wearing his seat belt.
The crash is under investigation. Authorities could not point to weather or speed as factors because they don't know what time the vehicle left the roadway, Doran said.
Weather could have been a factor; the area had wintry weather throughout the weekend, with snow Thursday, then snow, sleet and rain between Saturday and Sunday, he said.
"The one thing that made it extremely hard for us to find [his vehicle] is it snowed and it rained and it washed tracks away," Doran told the Tribune.
Neither alcohol nor medication appear to have contributed to the crash, and standard toxicology tests will be conducted, Doran told the Tribune.
Scheidegger, a Chadwick native, taught and coached in the Prophetstown schools in the 1980s and at Dixon High School from 1985 to 1998.
He coached girls basketball at Sterling High School from 1998 to 2007. He also served as activities director from 2003 to 2007.
Scheidegger left Sterling to become the athletic director at Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, a position he held at the time of his death.
He is survived by his wife and daughters Samantha, Kristin and Molly.