By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
A 33-year-old Rocky Boy man was killed in a single-vehicle crash Sunday morning, the Montana Highway Patrol said.
Lance Sheldon Parker Sr., a father, T-ball coach, and aspiring educator, was killed after his truck rolled along U.S. Highway 87 near Big Sandy.
Parker, described by family and friends as intelligent and fun-loving, was an avid softball player and was involved with a number of youth programs on Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation and in Havre.
His wife, Christine Parker, said today that he loved to play cards and work with children.
"He's a just great person," she said. "He treated everyone good. He cherished his children and loved working with kids."
Parker's great loves were his children and softball, she said.
"He just loved softball altogether," she said, adding that Parker coached youth T-ball in the Hi-Line Baseball League and the Havre Youth Baseball League.
The couple were together for four years before marrying in 1998, Christine Parker said.
"He was a neat person," she said.
Parker was scheduled to graduate with honors from Montana State University-Northern next spring with a bachelor's degree in education, his family said. He received an associate degree in forestry from Haskell University in Lawrence, Kan., in 1990 and an associate degree in teacher education from Stone Child College in 1995. He was elected student body president during his tenure at Stone Child College.
Parker, who had six children, was formerly the after-school coordinator for Rocky Boy Schools. He left the position to resume his education in the hopes of becoming a certified teacher, said Bob Swan of RJS & Associates.
Swan, who helped establish Rocky Boy's youth baseball program, described Parker's death as "a tragic loss."
"He loved working with kids," Swan said today. "He did a lot for the kids in this community."
Parker was remembered by friend Jeremy Sorensen of Havre as a sports nut who always wore a smile.
"He got along good with everyone," Sorensen said. "He had a good outlook on life, and was always in a really good mood."
The two often met over a couple of beers to talk about sports and a shared interest in computers, Sorensen said.
Parker was killed when his truck left the road five miles north of Big Sandy in Chouteau County, the Highway Patrol said. Officers said Parker, who was driving south, apparently fell asleep. His truck drifted off the left side of the road and vaulted over an approach, the patrol said. The accident happened sometime between 2:30 and 4:45 a.m.
The truck fishtailed before entering a clockwise spin and rolling.
Parker, who was not wearing a seat belt, was trapped inside, the patrol said. A passing motorist reported the wreck.
Speed was a factor, the patrol said.