Hockey ref from Allen Park killed in car crash near Battle Creek - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Hockey ref from Allen Park killed in car crash near Battle Creek

Posted: Updated:
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (WJBK) -

A car crash on I-94 near Battle Creek claimed the lives of three people.  Lifelong Allen Park residents 55-year-old William Gatesy, his wife, Dawn, and their 28-year-old son, William, were all pronounced dead at the scene.

The Gatesys along with two others were driving home from a casino in Battle Creek.  A preliminary investigation suggests Gatesy suffered an apparent heart attack behind-the-wheel and lost control of the vehicle, which then left the road and went down an embankment before hitting a tree.

"Most of us found out about it this morning," said Robert Bryan.  "It's totally disbelief that pretty much a whole family is wiped out in just a heartbeat."

"Known Bill for almost a lifetime," said Mr. Vasquez, operations manager of the Allen Park Recreation Center.  "Bill's just a bit older than me, but as a kid playing hockey Bill refereed games that I played in.  So I got to know him as a referee and later on as one hell of a person."

Hockey was Bill Gatesy's passion.  He was a referee in college, high school and youth hockey in Allen Park.  He impacted so many and his loss is felt by everyone.

"You just don't replace a person like that.  You move on, you go on, but you just don't replace him.  He was one of those irreplaceable kind," Vasquez said.  "He was a pretty funny guy.  He was a great guy."

"He got along with all the coaches, definitely got along with the kids, and his son was fantastic, his wife was great, and we're going to miss them all," Bryan said.

The two other passengers in the vehicle were taken to the hospital, but their injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

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