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BREAKING NEWS: Teen charged in March wreck that killed longtime teacher, coach

Kimberly Jordan • Dec 15, 2015 at 2:01 PM

Lebanon police charged a juvenile suspect with vehicular homicide by recklessness Thursday in a March 30 crash that killed longtime Lebanon High School teacher and coach Randy Vanatta.

Police Chief Scott Bowen said Darius Johnson, 16, of Lebanon, was charged Thursday.

Bowen said an investigation revealed on March 30, Johnson was traveling south on Winwood Drive in a Chevrolet Cavalier at a high rate of speed. Vanatta was driving an Audi TT2 when he entered the intersection headed east on Woodside Drive and was struck by Johnson's Cavalier.

Vanatta, 58, of Lebanon, died at the scene. A 12-year-old son of a longtime friend was also in the car with Vanatta. The boy was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center by LifeFlight helicopter, and he later made a full recovery.

Another Lebanon High School student, Byron M. Williams, 17, was a passenger in Johnson’s car.

Wilson Emergency Management Agency paramedics took Johnson and Williams to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries, according to Bowen.

Bowen said at the time everyone involved in the crash was wearing a seatbelt, and there were no signs of alcohol or drug use at the time of the crash. He said traffic reconstructionist Steve Green led the investigation.  

Vanatta coached the Lebanon High School golf team for more than 20 years and also served as an assistant coach under Campbell Brandon on the Lebanon girls basketball team.

Vanatta attended Cumberland Junior College, where he played basketball and baseball before earning a bachelor’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University and a master’s degree from Trevecca Nazarene University.

He was a 1972 graduate of Lebanon High School, where he excelled in basketball and baseball.

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