Longtime Troup High School wrestling coach and teacher Dariel Daniel was killed Tuesday night in a head-on wreck in Upson County.
Daniel, 65, was driving back from a wrestling match in Thomaston for Long Cane Middle School. According to Tracey Watson, of the Department of Public Safety, at about 7:40 p.m. Daniel was traveling west on Ga. 74 in Upson County in a 2005 Toyota Camry and attempted to pass a vehicle on the left, which was stopped awaiting to make a left turn. Daniel then struck a Ford F-150 head-on. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Ford F-150 was identified by the State Patrol as Giovanni Militano, age 47, from Thomaston.
While he was the head wrestling coach at Troup, the team won nine team state championships before he retired following the 2002 season. He was an assistant coach in Allen, Texas, where he helped that team win a few state championships before he returned to LaGrange.
Scooter Weathers, the head wrestling coach at LaGrange High said he knew Daniel extremely well and also coached against him. Daniel also helped out at a wrestling camp that Weathers runs each year.
“He was a great coach, a great motivator,” Weathers said. “He was one of the best coaches, bar none, in the state. All the state titles he won. He had his kids ready. His kids were hard-nosed and tough. He did a great job motivating.”
Weathers said Daniel had a big heart, wanted what was best for his kids and did a lot of good things in the county.
“It was a shocker last night. To get that call last night, it was just gut-wrenching,” he said. “He was just an amazing guy. He did a lot of things for a lot of kids, for a lot of people.”
Many former colleagues and friends of Daniel expressed their sorrow on his Facebook page Wednesday morning.
Daniel ran for The Troup County School Board in 2012, and was defeated by incumbent Sheila Rowe.
The race between Sheila Rowe and Daniel was heated. Daniel had accused the board of wasteful spending and criticized incidents of violence and crime in schools.