PALESTINE, Texas (KETK) – A Palestine ISD teacher was killed late Sunday night while returning home from Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks.

Michael Coyne, a teacher and coach at Palestine Junior High, was driving back from the game with a pair of students when their car was hit by a wrong way driver, according to the district.

Michael Coyne

“A father had gifted his son and his son’s friend, who is a cousin, as well as Coach Coyne the tickets to attend the game Sunday night. They were returning home after that celebration,” said Larissa Loveless, Palestine ISD Communications. 

According to a report by Wilmer Police, the wreck happened on I-45 just south of Mars Road. A wrong-way driver was headed northbound in the southbound lanes and struck two vehicles at the 265 mile-marker before ultimately hitting Coyne’s car.

“We work the scenes as they show up. We do our best investigation to do justice for the families that are involved. Above all, our deepest condolences to everyone who is involved in this accident. We will do our best to do a thorough investigation to make sure all questions are answered,” said Sgt. Richard Hernandez, Wilmer Police Department.

The students were taken to a Dallas hospital for treatment.

The district said in a statement they “have limited information regarding the accident” but they extend their “condolences to Coach Coyne’s family, friends and students.”

Coyne was a speech and communication teacher at Palestine ISD for three years and served as coach for the junior high girl’s basketball, volleyball and track teams.

Those who knew Coyne said he was an inspiration.

School officials shared that Coyne had a gift for encouraging students to build their confidence while sharing risk taking facts about themselves and as a class.

“He was just a great friend and a great person who built confidence in other people, but also just enjoyed life,” said Loveless.

Palestine ISD finished their last day of school for the summer this past Friday. At this time, no vigils and services have been planned. The district says everyone is now working through the shock and grief of this tragedy. 

“When you hear parents talk about him, they use the word inspirational, motivational, and so many of those parents picked up the phone today and called our central office and asked, ‘Is it true? Is it something just on social media or did he really pass away?'” said Loveless.

Coyne is survived by his wife and young daughter.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.