By Naomi Nix and Ashley Rueff
5:49 PM EST, February 11, 2013
Carl Sandburg High School officials are mourning the loss of the high school's athletic director who was found dead Sunday afternoon after a single-vehicle accident in Carroll County.
Bruce Scheidegger, 54, had been reported missing at 11:07 p.m. Saturday and was found in his vehicle by a Carroll County Sheriff's deputy at 12:16 p.m. Sunday, sheriff's officials said.
Scheidegger was traveling northbound on Loran Road, when the vehicle he was driving drove over a steep embankment and overturned, the Carroll County Sheriff’s department said in a news release.
A sheriff’s deputy located his car off of Loran Road and Indian Trail Road, near his second home in Lake Carroll in Carroll County, officials said. A spokeswoman with the Carroll County sheriff’s office said there were icy conditions on some roadways in the area during the weekend, and that the spot where Scheidegger’s vehicle left the road was a rural area.
Scheidegger, whose main home was in Orland Park, was pronounced dead at the scene by the Carroll County Coroner’s Office, the statement said.Carroll County Chief Deputy Coroner Chris Martin said an autopsy was completed Monday and Scheidegger’s death was ruled accidental resulting from injuries sustained in the car crash.
School administrators expressed their condolences Sunday at the passing of Scheidegger.
"I know I will remember Bruce as a kind, compassionate and dedicated friend and colleague who always had the best interest of students and staff at heart," Sandburg Principal Julia Wheaton said in a statement. "He will be deeply missed here at Sandburg and by all he came into contact with through the athletic community."
School officials have a crisis team available for classes on Monday to help students and teachers, according to a District 230 statement.
Scheidegger joined Sandburg High School as the Athletic Director in 2007. Before taking on that role he coached golf, boys basketball, girls basketball and golf, according to the Sandburg High School website.
He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and two master's degrees from Western Illinois University, the website said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with all who love Bruce, most especially his wife, Debbie, and their children Samantha, Kristin and Molly," District 230 Superintendent Dr. James M. Gay said in a statement. "Bruce will be remembered as a compassionate educator and outstanding administrator. He will be sadly missed by the Sandburg, District 230 and the athletic community."
Sheriff Jeff Doran said Scheidegger last spoke with his family early Friday evening, and when he didn’t return home on Saturday as expected, law enforcement agencies began searching the area.
“He was supposed to have been back to Orland Park around noon on Saturday and he didn’t show up,” he said.
Depending on what time his vehicle left the roadway, Doran said weather could have been a factor. The area had wintery weather throughout the weekend, with snow on Thursday and then snow, rain and sleet between Saturday and Sunday.
“We don’t have a time when he went off of the road,” 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.”
It wasn’t until the third or fourth time that a sheriff’s deputy passed the area where Scheidegger’s vehicle left the road that he noticed a suspicious looking track. When the deputy got out of his own vehicle to investigate, he found Scheidegger’s black Camry in a ravine, Doran said.
There was no initial indication that alcohol or medication contributed to the crash. He said a standard toxicology test will be conducted.
Scheidegger was apparently visiting his second home near Lake Carroll during the weekend and was also scheduled to be in Rockford during the weekend for a school event, Doran said.
He added that Scheidegger is also well known in the Carroll County area because he is originally from the small village of Chadwick, which is about nine miles south of Mt. Carroll.
A Facebook page created in memoriam of Scheidegger had more than 1,000 likes as of 11:30 a.m. Monday, and students, staff and friends are sharing their memories of the athletic director and condolences for his family with the Twitter hashtag #RIPScheidegger.
Walker Mortuary in Freeport is handling the funeral arrangements. Arrangements are pending.