FATAL CRASH: '81 Whitko graduate dies in Starke County crash

GROVERTOWN — A former Whitko High School athlete and Pierceton resident was killed Wednesday on his way to see a PGA golf event.Steve Mort, 50, died at 9:59 a.m. at South Bend Memorial Hospital following a collision with a semi hauling a wind turbine propeller. Mort’s brother, Tim, was also involved in the crash.The vehicle Mort was in failed to stop and lodged underneath the trailer of the semi and both brothers were trapped inside their vehicle and had to be extricated by emergency crews.According to area news reports, Steve Mort was transported to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Plymouth and then transported to South Bend Memorial where he died from his injuries. Tim Mort was listed in stable condition as of Wednesday.Steve Mort was a 1981 graduate of Whitko High School and a stand-out basketball player under the direction of Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Bill Patrick, who coached at Whitko for 24 winning seasons.“Steve was probably as good as anyone I’ve ever coached,” Patrick said Thursday morning. “He was one of the best athletes to go through Whitko High School.”Mort also played four years of baseball under Patrick, and was a member of the football team. He played on one of the ’Cats best teams in history, 1980’s undefeated (20-0) squad, averaging approximately 20 points per game.Patrick recalled a standing free throw-shooting tradition in practice with his players. He said after 30 years, Mort still holds the mark to beat for the most free throws in a row — 116.Mort went on to play basketball for Huntington College and was an all-conference player.“He was a super nice young man,” Patrick said. “You hate to hear that happen to anyone, but especially a good guy like Steve.”The Mort brothers were en route to the Ryder Cup, which is being held in Chicago, when the accident occurred.Funeral services are pending at DeMoney-Grimes Countryside Funeral Home. An obituary will appear in Friday’s edition of The Post & Mail.