Southern California Volunteer Swim Coach Killed in Car Wreck

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Photo Courtesy: Mary Pruden

Latham Bell, a 53-year-old elementary school teacher and volunteer coach at Wilson High in Long Beach, Calif., was killed in a car accident Thursday. According to a report from the Press-Telegram, Bell suffered a medical emergency and lost control of his vehicle, which crashed into a restaurant just after 3:30 p.m.

Bell was reportedly on the way to Wilson’s swim meet, the Moore League championship that the team eventually won for a 45th straight year, when the accident occurred. The Wilson team and head coach Eric Berg, a longtime friend of Bell,did not find out about the fatal accident until after the meet.

“It’s been a wide spectrum of emotion,” Berg told the Press-Tribune. “He’s one of the most selfless people I’ve ever known. He was always there with a helping hand. He was a father, grandfather, mentor to a lot of kids.”

It’s unclear if Bell died because of the crash or because of his medical emergency. Three patrons at the restaurant were injured but are all expected to recover.

To read more from the Press-Tribune, including tributes to Bell, click here.