WTVO/WQRF — Tragedies seem to hit small towns the hardest. That’s what Lena and Winslow are going through right now.
The two communities are grieving over the loss of 2015 Lena-Winslow graduate Colton Drye. He died Monday in an automobile accident in Iowa. Drye was a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force. He was based in Texas. He was returning home for a visit when the accident happened.
Drye was a talented football player at Lena-Winslow. He wore number 17 and he played safety, receiver and tight end. His junior year in the fall of 2013 the Panthers won the State Championship. His senior year they reached the State Quarterfinals.
Lena-Winslow head football coach Ric Arand says his connection with Drye began well before Drye’s high school years. Arand reflected for a moment during a phone interview Thursday.
“I’ve known Colton since he was very, very small. He went to the same day-care as my daughters did. The first thing I remember about him is he had a great smile. He always had a smile on his face and that was even up through high school.”
“As a player he was always unselfish. He would have done anything for the betterment of the team. He was a hard worker. He was in our weight room day-in and day-out. He knew a long time ago that he was going to go into the military. I remember him coming into the weight room as a senior through that summer, and he’d have an air mask on and things like that looking to train using that to make things tougher on himself so he was ready for basic training. That’s just of how he approached life.”
Arand said the news of Drye’s death has hit the residents of Lena hard.
“Really it’s been a shock. I think it’ll be a long time before it really sets in that he did pass and we’re living life without him. It’s really unfortunate. A great kid. He always wanted to serve his country. He was an asset to Lena-Winslow and the town of Lena itself. That’s how I’d describe it. It’s just shocking.”
Visitation for Drye will be held at Lena-Winslow High School Sunday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and again Monday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Drye’s girlfriend was also involved in the accident. She is still in a hospital in Iowa in critical condition.