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Tragic accident claims life of Wauneta-Palisade graduate PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 15:22

Courtesy Photo
Cody Fanning, a 2009 graduate of Wauneta-Palisade Schools, passed away after a tragic accident on Wednesday, April 25. Fanning will be sorely missed by many on both ends of the state. Here a student kneels to say a prayer at Cody Fanning’s memorial site on the Doane College campus in Crete.


By Sheri Hink

The Wauneta Breeze


The life of one of Wauneta’s shining stars was cut short last Wednesday, April 25 when 20-year-old Cody Fanning died after falling from a moving pickup in Crete, where he was a junior at Doane College.

Fanning, a 2009 Wauneta-Palisade, graduate was a leader and outstanding athlete.

According to the Crete Police Department Fanning was standing in the bed of a pickup driven by Cody D. Barnes of Elwood, also a Doane College football student, and fell from the truck as it turned southbound from 13th street onto Iris Avenue in Crete, Neb.

The five other passengers in the pickup, one female and four males, placed Fanning into the pickup and transported him to the nearby Crete Area Medical Center. The Crete Police Department was notified at 3:19 a.m. and a Crete police officer arrived shortly after.

The officer arrested Barnes for driving under the influence of alcohol and transported him to the Saline County Jail in Wilber, Neb. The Saline County Attorney has yet to determine what, if any, charges will be filed against Barnes.

Fanning was flown from the Crete Area Medical Center to BryanLGH Medical Center in Lincoln where he was pronounced dead.

Family and friends on both ends of the state are grieving after the tragic accident. Fanning is fondly remembered by all those he touched in his short time on earth.

His family remembers Fanning as a hard worker with an open heart who was quick to help others and who had a passion for football.

“It did not matter if someone was young or old, big or little, black or white, Cody had a big heart and was always ready to help someone in need,” said his aunt, Shelly Meyer, and grandma Betty McCallum.

Fanning was active on his family farm and was running his own cattle as well. His family remembers him as a go-getter who was not afraid to go after any goal. Family members said, “He always gave 110 percent whether he was working or playing.”


Leader on and off the field

Fanning was active on the Doane campus. Doane College head football coach Matt Franzen remembers Fanning as an amazing, and a bit surprising, addition to their team. Fanning joined the Doane team as a roster filler but he didn’t stay there long. He went from being a seventh string weakside linebacker to a defensive scout team player by the second week of practice. He went on to play on special teams in every game of the season as a freshman.

Doane’s defensive coordinator Chris Bessler also saw Fanning’s determination to play college football. Bessler described Fanning as having an, “extremely hard work ethic, persistent, great character and very dependable. I looked for him as one of the strongest members of our team. Pound for pound he was the best athlete I have ever worked with.” He went on to say, “He was one of, if not the best leaders on our team.”

Franzen said that Fanning topped the coaching staff’s list as the toughest, scrappiest and most loyal player on the roster, describing him as a “5’ 6” stick of dynamite.” He’ll remember Fanning as a man that would take on any challenge, one who would not back down from anything, and one that would stay with the plan no matter what. Franzen described these traits as “old fashioned toughness.”

Coach Franzen said that Fanning set the standard of performance and personal characteristics to instill in all players and coaches. He said Fanning modeled ideals as well, if not better than anyone in the program. Franzen described Fanning as a man that set the bar high and never worked below his standards.

“Cody didn’t do anything half way. If he wasn’t the best at everything he did, he surely gave his best in everything he did. Cody was a GPAC Scholar Athlete who carried a 3.3 GPA in Business Administration,” said Franzen.

Fanning was well-loved off the field as well. “Cody got along with everybody. He didn’t just get along, Cody loved everybody. If you had a smile on your face and a positive attitude about life, you were Cody’s type of person,” explained Franzen.

Fanning’s death was mourned throughout the Doane campus as the news of his death swept across campus.

“This is heartbreaking news for Cody’s family and the Doane community. We extend our deepest sympathy to the family and all who are grieving,” said Doane President Jacque Carter.


Sorely missed back home

Several faculty members at Wauneta-Palisade schools remember Fanning as a leader and integral part of the W-P community.

Dawn Doetker, W-P track coach, said, “Cody was a hard-working, devoted and loyal young man. No matter what sport, studies or other activities he participated in he gave more than a 110 percent effort.”

“Cody never complained. He just went out and did the workout and gave it his all. On the track team, Cody tied the 100 meter record and was so proud of what he had accomplished. He never had enemies and was loved by all,” added Doetker.

“He will be dearly missed and I am so proud and honored to have had the opportunity to coach him in track and watch him excel in all sports that he loved to compete in,” she said.

Fanning was also a state-level leader away from the field of competition during his high school career. “Cody was in ag and wood shop classes.  He was also a member of the FFA chapter and earned his state degree in 2009.  Cody was more interested in the hands-on activities of the shop. His personality, along with T.J. Ellicott, always kept the classes lively,” said W-P ag teacher and FFA sponsor Dan Andrews.

“Cody would often find ways to procrastinate about getting shop projects done, but always managed to finish with very good work. He loved to talk about football and wrestling,” he said.

Randy Geier was principal of W-P High School the year Fanning graduated. “Cody was an amazing young man in so many ways. He was an excellent student who always had a smile on his face. As his school principal I appreciated his positive attitude. He would always make me smile. Cody was also an excellent leader for the school and football team—he was always willing to help somebody out.”

Geier went on to say, “Cody played football with fierce intensity. He was very strong despite his small stature, he was also quick and one of the toughest football players I have ever coached over my 30-year career. He was also a great practice player, who went hard every day. He was a great leader.”

Geier still remembers Fanning’s legacy as a high school football player. “Cody was the leading tackler on our 2006 state semi-final football team as a sophomore. I picked Cody to play in the Nebraska 8-man football all-star game the summer of 2009, when I had the opportunity to be the head coach. Cody was the starting fullback. I had a fun week with Cody and he represented the school and communities with great integrity,” remembers Geier.


Legacy lives on

Fanning continues his leadership and inspiration to others after his death. He will continue to help others through the donation of his organs.

Fanning is the son of Craig and Jo Fanning of Wauneta and older brother of Bo and Abbie Fanning. His grandparents are Clint and Betty McCallum and Dorothea Fanning.

Funeral services for Fanning were held Tuesday morning at the Wauneta Attendance Center gymnasium. Fans from near and far waited their turn to enter the gym to pay their respects.

Per the family’s request, W-P students dressed casually in W-P colors or shirts with Fanning’s football number. The family made a similar request to Doane students who made the trip to attend the funeral, asking them to wear their Doane colors at the service, saying Cody would have wanted it that way. Members of the Doane football team wore their black jerseys to the service.

Though lost too soon, Fanning made the most of his time, perhaps best summed up by Coach Franzen, “Cody Fanning got more out of his 20 years than many people get out of their entire lifetime. He was a friend, a teammate, a nephew, a cousin, a boyfriend, a grandson, a brother and a son. I feel blessed to have had three years with him, but I also feel cheated that I didn’t get more.” A feeling shared by many.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 May 2012 15:23