Support our mission

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Like most schools, there were no classes on Saturday at Bitburg High School.

But dozens of students came to the campus near Spangdahlem Air Base for one reason: To remember their beloved cross-country coach and math teacher.

David E. Turner died Friday of a suspected heart attack while practicing with his team. Students gathered Saturday morning for an impromptu meeting on the field near where Turner collapsed and was later pronounced dead.

Some students had watched the day before as attempts to revive the 48-year-old coach and teacher failed.

Turner, a Monroe, La., native and married father of four daughters, had worked at Bitburg High since 2003. Bitburg Principal David Carlisle called Turner a “well-respected” teacher and family man dedicated to his students.

“He was a very loved guy,” Carlisle said by telephone. “He was a family man who genuinely cared about the kids in the school. He is definitely going to be missed.”

People have laid flowers at the site and students have created a bulletin board at the school in Turner’s honor, Carlisle said.

Turner was running with the team when he stopped near the football field on Friday. Witnesses said Turner complained of chest pains before he collapsed around 4 p.m.

Thomas Jenkins, the school nurse, and coaches Dan Vasquez and Mike Laue were the first on the scene and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation as several students stood nearby, Carlisle said.

An emergency medical team arrived minutes later and took over attempts to revive Turner but could not. German ambulance workers pronounced him dead at the scene around 4:30 p.m.

The school, which has more than 300 students, opened the next day with counselors, psychologists, chaplains and nurses available to provide support.

A support team on Monday continued to offer help with people coping with the loss to anyone in need.

A memorial service is scheduled for Friday 4:30 p.m. at the Bitburg Chapel.

Turner is survived by his wife, Hilde, and their four daughters, Adrienne, 21, Sydney, 17, Ingrid, 8, and Emilia, 3. He coached girls’ basketball and a girls’ summer softball team.


around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up