Friends and colleagues of David “Blake” Hanger remember him as “a fun-loving guy,” “strong-willed” and someone who “had a pretty good sense of humor.”
Hanger—a 2011 Butler graduate who earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise science—died Sunday morning after a one-month battle with injuries sustained in a car accident.
He was 25 years old.
Hanger was a passenger in a vehicle traveling on a St. Louis interstate on Oct. 10, according to a Columbus, Ind., newspaper, The Republic.
The vehicle ran into the back of a semi truck trailer, and Hanger sustained injuries that resulted in him being placed in a medically-induced coma.
He did not regain consciousness after being taken out of the coma, according to The Republic.
Hanger was attending graduate school at Logan College in Missouri to become a chiropractor.
Friday at 6:30 p.m., Butler’s Phi Delta Theta fraternity—of which Hanger was a member while at Butler—will honor Hanger with a release of sky lanterns on the fraternity’s lawn.
St. Louis Mercy Hospital—which Hanger was taken to after the accident—is renaming its Trauma/Neuropathy Intensive Care Unit wing after Hanger and remodeling its waiting room to better accommodate future families, according to a Facebook post from Brent Devers, Hanger’s brother.
“There were so many of us (that) we were spilling out of the waiting room,” said Ted Burgoon, a 2012 Butler graduate and fellow Phi Delta Theta fraternity member. “It shows his character, how many lives he impacted, that the hospital has to redo his construction to change the waiting room to be more accommodating for people.”
Matt Farrell, a 2012 Butler graduate and Phi Delta Theta fraternity member, said Hanger was “an essential piece to bringing back Phi Delta Theta” when the house returned to campus in 2009.
Burgoon, who met Hanger as a freshman through the fraternity, said Hanger was a reason he and others joined Phi Delta Theta.
“He was one of those kids who had so much energy all the time,” Burgoon said. “People just naturally gravitated to him.”
Marcie Mangan, a 2012 Butler graduate, met Hanger through a group of friends during a spring break while at Butler.
Mangan said she will always remember a time during that break when Hanger was simultaneously enjoying two of his favorite things: house music and sports.
“(Hanger and others) were blaring house music, and he was sitting like two inches from the TV fistpumping and watching sports,” Mangan said. “He was so content, and that’s how I’ll always picture him.”
Lisa Farley, physical education assistant professor, taught Hanger in one of her first classes at Butler in 2009.
She said she makes it a point to get to know all her students, and she quickly realized something about Hanger.
“I can’t think about him without him having his hat on backwards,” Farley said. “I see that that’s a characteristic that’s relatively significant for him.”
Farley said she thinks people were drawn to Hanger because of his positivity, happiness and enjoyment of fun.
“That’s probably why he had so many friends,” Farley said. “I think people were just reeling over his death.”
Basketball was another of Hanger’s passions, Farrell said.
Farrell said Hanger was part of several intramural basketball teams that reached championship games, with Hanger always “channeling his idol Kobe Bryant.”
“Blake was one to never shy away from someone new and always lit up the room with his presence,” Farrell said. “As only Blake would say, ‘Less Gooo Dawgs.’”
Burgoon said he is still in disbelief over what happened, adding that Hanger was “too strong and strong-willed” to be hurt in an accident.
“It’s still not even real to me,” Burgoon said. “I’m talking to you, but I still think I’m going to see him two weeks from now at the HRC playing basketball.”
A memorial service for Hanger will be held at Columbus North High School Saturday afternoon.
Hanger’s family has set up an endowment fund for a scholarship at Logan College, in lieu of flowers.