Student remembered for flight passion

By Tara Kulash

Matt Coleman could be described as outgoing, fun-loving and a great friend.

The SIU senior from Libertyville studying aviation technologies, died early Monday in a single vehicle accident in Murphysboro. Police think the 26-year-old was heading eastbound, ran off Walnut Street and crossed over the westbound lanes before he hit an embankment. The car had overturned at least once and Coleman was thrown from the car. Police are investigating the accident.

Caitlin Coleman, Matt Coleman’s older sister by three years, said he was a great friend to everyone he knew. She said his passion for flight began when he took flying lessons in high school.


“He was very interested in aviation, a big flying enthusiast,” Caitlin Coleman said.

Chris Coleman, Matt Coleman’s older brother by four years, said Matt chose SIUC because of its aviation opportunities.

“He was determined to make some sort of career in the industry,” he said.

Chris Coleman said Matt Coleman always looked out for him, even though he was the younger sibling.

“He was always concerned about whatever was going on and family life,” he said. “Growing up, he was kind of like a wingman. We did a lot together.”

Joe Hahn, an SIU alumnus, said he agreed Matt Coleman was very loyal and would do anything for his friends.

“He was the most fun-loving, upbeat person you could hang out with,” Hahn said.

Chris Coleman said his younger brother played hockey and lacrosse in high school. He also worked several jobs to pay for his college. Chris Coleman said Matt worked at locations such as Macy’s in various departments, Pagliai’s Pizza, as a bartender and as a student worker for a short period.

Don Bartlett, an assistant instructor of aviation technologies, said he had Coleman as a student almost a year ago, and he often had to make up his tests because he was always working.

Hahn said Coleman was a very hard worker.

“He had his head screwed on straight and was just the best friend I could have ever asked for,” he said.

Funeral arrangements for Matt Coleman will be Saturday in Libertyville.