Education

Teammates remember Hanford teen who died in crash

In an undated photo, Nolan Eggert poses with fish caught at Edison Lake. Eggert, 16, a sophomore at Sierra Pacific High School in Hanford and the goalie on the school's water polo junior varsity squad, died Friday night in a traffic accident while riding a bicycle.
In an undated photo, Nolan Eggert poses with fish caught at Edison Lake. Eggert, 16, a sophomore at Sierra Pacific High School in Hanford and the goalie on the school's water polo junior varsity squad, died Friday night in a traffic accident while riding a bicycle. Special to The Bee

When the voice over the loudspeaker at Sierra Pacific High on Monday said every member of the boys water polo team must report to a team meeting immediately, everyone on campus knew what it was about.

Nolan Eggert, 16, a sophomore and the goalie on the water polo junior varsity squad, died Friday night in a traffic accident.

A candlelight vigil in his honor was held Monday night at the high school, following one Sunday at Woodrow Wilson Junior High, where his father is the principal.

Nolan was struck by a car while crossing the road on his bicycle a few blocks from his home west of Hanford.

The accident happened about 9:40 p.m. Friday. The CHP said the boy rode his bike into the north lane of 14th Avenue, north of School Street, and was hit by a 1999 Camry. He was not wearing a helmet.

The driver, Felix Gonzalez-Hernandez, 25, stopped and called 911. Alcohol or drugs do not appear to be a factor, the CHP said.

An ambulance took Nolan to the hospital in Hanford, and a helicopter took him to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.

Nolan’s father, Kenny Eggert, was at the hospital in Fresno when his son died.

“I went in, I said a prayer, I grabbed his hand,” Eggert said. “His hand squeezed back. I know it was God saying I’ve taken your son home.”

School counselors and pastors were at the high school Monday to talk to students as needed, principal Greg Henry said.

I’ll remember his great sense of humor – he could make everyone smile.

John Mello, Sierra Pacific High water polo player

At the water polo team meeting, coach Kevin Jauregui told team members they were confronting a unique situation – the death of one their own.

Nolan was new to the position of goalie, but immediately became an inspiration to the team, teammates said. Every time he blocked a shot, they would yell “Nolan!”

“Nolan was genuinely a great person – nice and fair and respectful,” said John Mello, 15, a sophomore. “I’ll remember his great sense of humor – he could make everyone smile.”

“He was always trying his hardest,” said Michael Hollar, 17, a senior.

The school’s athletics department said plans are in the works for a Nolan Eggert Award to be given to a senior water polo player, boy or girl, who best exemplifies Nolan’s team player spirit.

His father said when the coach assigned him to be goalie, “he had the best game of his life.”

Nolan had a gift for making friends, his father said. When he switched schools in eighth grade to attend Woodrow Wilson Junior High, “he didn’t know anybody. At the end, he knew 600. Nolan did not have an enemy.”

Even though he was only 16, he had a job helping make kettle corn at the Thursday night farmers market in Hanford.

Nolan loved camping, hunting and fishing.

“His lifelong goal was to become a fish and game warden to protect our resources for future use,” his father said.

Family friend Karen McConnell said she liked “his mischievous smile, no question.”

“He was a very, very sweet boy,” said family friend Carolyn Nunes. “He had so many friends.”

Survivors include his father, mother Stephanie Eggert, vice principal at Frontier Elementary School, and brother Martin, 18, a student at the University of North Dakota.

Lewis Griswold: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold

Celebration of life

When: 10 a.m Sept. 5

Where: First Baptist Hanford, 9125 131/2 Ave., Hanford

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