O'Fallon mourns high school teacher who died in fall

News-DemocratMay 6, 2013 

The O’Fallon community is mourning the loss of O’Fallon Township High School teacher Matt Seipp, who died Monday at St. Louis University Hospital after an accident Sunday.

Seipp, 33, who taught welding in the industrial technology department at OTHS since 2002 and owned Seipp Lawn Care LLC in O’Fallon, was well-known throughout the community.

“Matt was a dear colleague and friend and his presence at OTHS, both in and out of the classroom, will be forever missed,” District 203 Superintendent Darcy Benway, Ed.D., said.

OTHS Principal Rich Bickel added, “Our colleagues and our student body are heartbroken and devastated over Matt’s tragic death, “Our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his wife Jodie and their young son Drew as well as with their extended family,” he said.

Seipp is survived by his wife Jodie Bell Seipp, who is chair of the OTHS English Department, and infant son Drew.

“Matt was an outstanding instructor of welding for our students,” Bickel said. “He was the most honorable role model of hard work, integrity and kindness of spirit for everyone who was fortunate to know him. He represented all of the very best qualities that we strive for, not only as educators, but as people.

“He was at all times generous and giving of his time and talents, whether in his professional duties or in his personal life. He never refused a request for his assistance with any task large or small,” he said.

“Matt was an organ donor, so even in this tragic circumstance he has given the ultimate gift of life to others,” Bickel then noted.

Seipp apparently died as a result of injuries sustained from falling off a ladder Sunday. O’Fallon Police Chief John Betten said officers responded to a 911 call at 12:36 p.m. Sunday for a male victim with unknown injuries in the 800 block of Scott-Troy Road.

When officers and emergency workers arrived on scene, Betten said they determined the victim had fallen from a ladder while working in a garage and sustained injuries to his head. He was transported to Anderson Hospital in Maryville with the intent of meeting ARCH Air Medical Services there.

“The weather precluded them from flying,” Betten said. O’Fallon EMS proceeded to transport Seipp by ambulance to St. Louis University Hospital. A spokesman for the hospital declined to give Seipp's condition and referred questions to the family, which is standard policy when a death has occurred. Members of the immediate family could not be reached.

Seipp also served as assistant baseball coach for the O’Fallon Panthers in 2003 and 2004. And, Benway said, he “could always be found at the scorer's table working the Panther basketball games.”

Students, colleagues and friends of Seipp flooded Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites with tributes. One post described Seipp as an “unbelievable human being. You will be greatly missed.” Another poster said, “Mr. Matt Seipp was my favorite teacher in high school. It’s hard to believe he’s gone.”

Principal Bickel added, “His constant smile and friendly kindness will always be at the forefront of our thoughts as we reflect on what he meant to all of us. We are all going to struggle mightily to deal with this immense loss. We will seek to honor Matt in our daily work with our renewed commitment toward the ideals that he represented every day he was with us.”

Guidance counselors and social workers are available at the high school for students or employees needing assistance. And flags at all O’Fallon schools are being flown at half-staff in Seipp’s memory, Benway said.

Schildknecht Funeral Home in O’Fallon is in charge of funeral arrangements.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

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