Tragedy marred the start of the Special Olympics torch run Monday. A southeastern Iowa corrections officer was killed by a passing driver as he took part in the relay event. Lieutenant Curt Henderson of the Iowa State Patrol says the torch run had just started its first leg at Fort Madison. Highway 61 is a divided four-lane highway between Fort Madison and Burlington and the run had just started a few minutes earlier, with a state patrol escort vehicle with its emergency lights going following behind the runners. That’s when an Illinois man came up behind them driving north on the highway, and didn’t realize what was going on. Lieutenant Henderson says the 84-year-old motorist lost control, swerved to the right onto the shoulder of the highway, around the patrol car, and as he tried to get back on the pavement he hit two of the runners. 36-year-old Scott Edward Bryant of Donnelson was killed instantly, and another corrections worker was treated and released at a local hospital. The driver of the car was not hurt, though his car wound up in the right-hand ditch and troopers say he was badly shaken at realizing what had happened. Investigation continues, but the lieutenant says it didn’t play out as a case of reckless or aggressive driving.The man, Edward J. Thomas of Markham, Illinois, didn’t realize the escort vehicle was traveling as slowly as it was, and when he did realize it, it was too late and he couldn’t stop. The incident was over in moments but all witnesses agree on one thing — Scott Bryant, the corrections officer who died, was a hero. He says it’s well-documented by the officers providing the escort as well as the corrections worker who survived — he was literally shoved out of the way by Bryant. He says they both heard it coming, heard gravel flying though they didn’t know just what was happening, and Scott Bryant shoved his fellow officer out of the way. He says it’s a sad chapter in what’s been an effort to help others, as the Iowa corrections officers have participated in the torch run for about seven years. The warden of the penitentiary, Ken Burger, says Bryan’s death has been tough.He says it’s a real sad time as he says Scott was well liked by everyone and leaves behind a wife and two kids. Burger says the prison has people trained to counsel others over the death.He says as soon as the accident happened, they had the individuals moving around visiting with the staff and providing support. Burger says the funeral for Bryant is Wednesday at 10-30 at the First Christian Church in Keokuk.
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