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Durant wrestling coach remembering 18-year-old killed in forklift accident

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 6:37 PM CST
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DURANT, Okla. (KXII) - A Durant wrestling coach is remembering one of his own killed Monday in a forklift accident at work.

Jared Pierce, 18, was on the team for all four years of high school.

Durant High School Head Wrestling Coach Jim Taylor says he was well-mannered, playful, competitive and a hard worker.

He says he held the team together with his positive energy and spirit.

The team is still in shock of his death.

“We spend so much time together on the road, sitting in a gym, that we become a family," Taylor said.

His kids.

That’s what Taylor calls his wrestling team.

“Never had a son because I’ve had hundreds of them," he said.

Jared started wrestling as a freshman.

He was a state qualifier in power lifting and wrestling, and ran track.

He graduated from Durant High School in May and had been working at J&I Manufacturing in Madill for two months, when he was killed in a forklift accident on Monday.

For Taylor, his loss hits close to home.

“He’s what you’d want your son to be," Taylor said.

When he first met Jared, he described him as goofy and fun.

He says everywhere they went, Jared would lose something.

“I’d have coaches from all over the state of Oklahoma calling me saying hey I found a pair of shorts, a pair of sweats, and usually it was Jared’s," Taylor said.

But Taylor says he saw Jared grow up through high school, and mature into a respectful, hard-working young man.

“And he was so helpful, it was can I help do this, can I help pick things up," he said.

He says Jared was always working.

Before wrestling practice, he’d come from the agricultural building where he loved to weld.

“And he’d be covered in weld burns, he’d have burns all over him. And we’d have to patch him up before he we could let him get on the mat and wrestle," Taylor said. “Everywhere he went he walked in with a smile on his face and usually a laugh to follow.”

A young life cut short, lived to the fullest.

“I truly believe the world is a worse place because we lost that young man," Taylor said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.

J&I Manufacturing declined to comment at this time.

This is the sixth death of a recent graduate or current Durant High School student since May.

In May, four teenage boys were killed by a drunk driver.

A 20-year-old former student drowned in July.

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