CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — A teacher at Harrison County’s Liberty High School died Tuesday morning after being struck by vehicle in the parking lot of the school.

Ryan Lantz

Journalism teacher and assistant football coach Ryan Lantz was pronounced dead at Ruby Memorial Hospital.

Harrison County Sheriff Robert Matheny said the collision occurred at about 7:30 a.m. as students and staff were arriving for the day.

Matheny said it appears to be a terrible accident.

“Tragic, but accidental,” Matheny told MetroNews.

The Harrison County Sheriff’s Department has a school resource officer at Liberty High and the officer was first on the scene, Matheny said.

The driver, according to witnesses, was a student and may have been blinded by the sun.

Matheny hasn’t confirmed who the driver was or a possible cause of the collision. He said an investigation is underway.

“Certainly with the school community and our community we all suffer a loss. It’s heartbreaking,” Matheny said.

Lantz was a Liberty High graduate. He had taught there for 10 years. He was the defensive coordinate for the school’s football team. He was the boys basketball coach for four years before stepping down following the 2021 season. Most recently he was coaching freshmen basketball at Robert C. Byrd High School.

Liberty High football coach A.J. Harman told MetroNews Lantz had his priorities right.

“First and foremost, Ryan Lantz was a devout Christian and everything he did, he did it with all of his heart whether it was coaching, teaching, playing the guitar, or praying,” Harman said. “At Liberty High School we’re a small school and we really are a family. When we cry, we cry together and when we celebrate, we celebrate together and this is something that’s going to have a big impact on our students.”

Harman said the school and its community will share the suffering.

“And I know coach Lantz would want us to pick up the pieces and carry on,” Harman said.

A.J. Harman

The Harrison County Board of Education postponed its meeting set for Tuesday night.

The board released the following statement:

“The Harrison County Board of Education is deeply saddened to announce the tragic passing of a respected teacher at Liberty High School, following an accident that occurred early Tuesday morning in the school’s parking lot.

“The loss of the beloved teacher is a profound tragedy for our school community. Our thoughts are with the families involved during this difficult time.

“Out of respect, all extracurricular activities at Liberty High School as well as the Harrison County Board of Education meetings scheduled for this evening have been canceled.”

A candlelight vigil was scheduled for 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Liberty High School football field.

WAJR Reporter Mike Nolting contributed to this story.