On the morning of May 18, 2017, a two car accident took the life of one Citrus County resident and critically injured the other. At 5:18 AM, 20-year-old Daniel Edmonson, of Inverness, was traveling eastbound on Main Street in Inverness when his 1999 Jeep Laredo crossed the road and entered the westbound lanes near Seminole Avenue. 48-year-old Steven Ekeli, also from Inverness, was in the inside lane traveling westbound on Main Street in his 1989 Toyota 4 Runner, when the vehicles hit almost head-on, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Ekeli expired at the scene. Edmonson was taken to Ocala Regional with critical injuries. According to Sgt. Steve Gaskins, the Public Information Officer for the Florida Highway Patrol, alcohol and speed were not factors in the crash. Although charges are pending, no criminal charges are expected at this time. It is not known at this time what caused the crash.
Steven Ekeli was a well-known soccer coach in Citrus County, coaching at both Seven Rivers Christian School and Citrus High School. The news came as a shock to Ekeli’s family, friends, and the students who knew him. According to Dana James, Headmaster at Seven Rivers Christian School, Ekeli was in his second tenure at the school. He had previously coached soccer at SRCS, leaving only when the school was no longer able to compete in high school soccer due to scheduling issues. He was a coach at Citrus High School, returning to Seven Rivers Christian School two years ago to manage Warrior Park, the school’s athletics complex.
When asked if there were any support professionals being brought in to assist students and staff, Mr. James stated “We have built-in support at the school, so we were able to open the chapel, and pastoral staff were available to our faculty and students. I spent the morning with Mrs. Ekeli, providing as much support as I could.” Mr. James went on to describe Steven as “gracious, with a special kind of heart. He did an exceptional job at our facility and embraced his role here.” Steven is survived by his wife Julie, and his daughter Victoria. A GoFundMe account has been set up for the family to assist with expenses. Funeral services will be held Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 4 o’clock at Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church.
The survivor of the accident, Daniel Edmonson, who is a married father of an infant son, remains at Ocala Regional Medical Center in the critical care unit. The family released a statement on behalf of the Edmonson’s, which reads “Our hearts and prayers are with the Ekeli family, and we are so sorry for their loss. We ask for prayers for them and for Daniel as well at this time, as he battles serious injuries. In light of the serious tragedy that has occurred, we ask for privacy at this time as Daniel needs our love and attention.” Friends of the family have opened a GoFundMe page as well, to help with the Edmonson’s expenses.
Suncoast Standard (c) May 20, 2017 at 1:30 PM, Updated at 2:29 PM
Submitted by: Dawn Jaglowski, Investigative Reporter