Remembering Keaghan McDaniel

In loving memory of an athlete, friend, and son.

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Ella Skelsey

At sunset on June 8, 2021 there was a fatal car accident on SW Third Street and Bridlewood, injuring one and killing LSW class of 2021 graduate, Keaghan McDaniel. 

According to Fox 4 News, the police investigation is still underway. McDaniel was driving down Third Street when the other driver pulled out of a stop sign and the collision occurred. The other driver sustained serious injuries but is alert and beginning recovery, as reported by the LS Tribune. 

McDaniel was not just a student at West, but an involved person in the community. He was on the West basketball and swim teams, as well as the baseball team all four years of high school. He played club baseball for many years and had recently signed to play baseball for State Fair Community College. McDaniel was also a member of the Titan Scroll starting his sophomore year, through his senior year. 

He is survived by his mother, Niki McDaniel and their family, his girlfriend Abbey Zellars, as well as his friends, teachers, coaches, classmates and teammates. On June 10, a group of family members, peers, teachers and coaches gathered to remember him in the PAC where they told their favorite stories and memories of McDaniel. They then headed to the outfield—McDaniel’s position—on the baseball field for a balloon release. 

There is currently a memorial set up on the sidewalk at the intersection of Third and Bridelwood, where anyone can leave flowers, balloons or write a note with chalk. By June 10 there was a baseball helmet, tee, a baseball scooter, and multiple balls and crosses—one even made with a bat. The sidewalk was covered, with dozens of tiles filled with chalk messages; some included, “Keag’s World,” “#LLKM,” “NEVER stop smiling up there,” and “#2 will not be forgotten.”

One of McDaniel’s close friends, LSW 2021 graduate Reese Randall, left a note with a friend at the memorial and later said, “Keaghan and I have been best friends since seventh grade. We have a lot of good memories and went through a lot of stuff together. And he’s been mine and a lot of other people’s hype man and he’s always there for everyone and he’ll talk to you about anything.”

McDaniel is remembered for his bright smile and love he spread to everyone he met. According to his classmate, senior Kara Moulder, he was inclusive and had a warm heart. Moulder said, “Even though I was younger than him, in the class we had together he always made me feel welcome and less invisible. I found myself able to open up to him and trust him, and he always met that with complete kindness. I’ve never met a brighter or happier person.”

LSW class of 2020 graduate, baseball teammate, and fellow Titan Scroll staff member Cody Bahl said, “Keaghan was somebody that you saw and he immediately made your day brighter. His smile lit up every single room he walked into… truly nobody quite like him.” 

Class of 2021 graduates and members of Titan Scroll had similar things to say. Christina Jarvis said, “He is truly one of a kind and made this community a better place.” Maddy Cantrell said she already misses “seeing his beaming smile.” “Keaghan had a light to everyone. He had an infectious energy and made every moment feel special,” Cantrell said. 

Josh Wood, another fellow Titan Scroll staff member, said he was “a great guy to have in your life.” Wood said, “He always wanted everyone to feel happy and relaxed. He never talked about himself, and he always wanted to hear about others, because he was just that type of guy.” 

Anna Eulinger knew McDaniel through Titan Scroll but said she had just moved close by and felt so welcomed by him. “I am crushed that I won’t have the reassurance of him living a street behind me anymore,” Eulinger said, “But I don’t doubt that every time I pass his street to get home, I will remember him and the kindness he brought with him everywhere he went. Rest easy, Keaghan. We’re gonna miss you like crazy.”

McDaniel will not be forgotten as he impacted every person he met, and even those he didn’t. According to Fox 4 News, “some neighbors who didn’t even know him have contributed [to the memorial], calling it the worst thing that can happen to a parent.”

Friend and longtime baseball teammate Brady Rhoden said McDaniel had a big impact on his life. “Words can’t describe how lost I am without you Keag. But I know that I love you and I know a whole lot more people love you too. I’m gonna miss playing baseball with you and staying up late playing video games with you. I love you Keag, watch over us and we will do right by you,” Rhoden wrote on Instagram. 

The belief that his friends and family will continue thinking of him and carrying on his legacy of spreading kindness, joy and love is shared by many. “His image will no doubt be ever present in the minds of everyone whose lives were impacted by him. Honestly, it’s too much to put into words—he brightened a dark world, and we will miss him everyday,” Moulder said. 

 

 

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