Public Safety

City High alum killed by a train remembered as 'great kid' who was 'always smiling'

City High’s Isaiah Washpun (28) runs in the open field during their game against Dubuque Senior Friday, Aug. 26, 2011 in Iowa City. (Brian Ray/ The Gazette)
City High’s Isaiah Washpun (28) runs in the open field during their game against Dubuque Senior Friday, Aug. 26, 2011 in Iowa City. (Brian Ray/ The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — “He was a great kid — a hard worker, always smiling, positive and upbeat,” Mike Moore, a coach at City High, said of Isaiah Dashaun Washpun, 25, a City High graduate who was killed last week when he was struck by a train.

Iowa City police confirmed Washpun’s identity Monday.

Police said Washpun was struck by a train about 7:30 a.m. on Friday at the railroad crossing near Sunrise Village mobile home park near Scott Avenue and Heinz Road in southeastern Iowa City. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Isaiah Washpun was a wonderful young man,” City High Principal John Bacon said in a statement sent to The Gazette. “He is a true Little Hawk, forever. My thoughts are with his amazing family. We have great memories of this special young man. He had wonderful friends. He made City High a better place.”

According to his obituary, Washpun played football, basketball and track while a student at City High. He graduated in 2012.

Moore, head coach of the boys track team, said Washpun always had a smile on his face.

“He came from a good, solid family, had a solid upbringing,” he said. “I hurt for that family. You can’t really put into words how you feel, but I know he is going to be missed by a lot of people — friends, family, coaches and teachers.”

Moore said he graduated from City High in 1986 with Washpun’s father, and he later taught Washpun and his siblings at Lucas Elementary School where he was a fifth-grade teacher for more than 25 years. At City High, Moore coached Washpun when he was on the sophomore football team and boys track and field team.

“He did whatever was asked of him,” Moore said. “He put the team first and really just wanted to be a part of something. He formed close relationships with his teammates and maintained them after high school — they were all still really close. This is a loss that hits hard and is going to be felt by a lot of people in the community.”

City High Football Coach Dan Sabers had similar memories of his former player.

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“Isaiah was a quality young man when he was at City High,” Sabers wrote in an email to The Gazette. “He was a great teammate on (two) very successful football teams who always put the team first.

“I really enjoyed working with Isaiah throughout the years, he was always enthusiastic and was very dedicated,” the coach added. “His family also had very strong connections to City High athletics. My sympathies go out to Isaiah’s family and all of his friends — they lost someone who was very special.”

After high school, Washpun attended Iowa Western Community College where he also played football, according to the obituary.

He is remembered as a man who “gave his life to Christ at an early age by becoming a soldier at the Iowa City Salvation Army where he participated in many church activities,” according to the obituary.

“He enjoyed video games, cooking and hanging out with family and friends. He was a very affectionate person with a contagious laugh and a smile that would light up any room. Whether giving great big bear hugs or gentle ones you always felt his love and couldn’t help but love him in return,” the obituary said.

He is survived by his parents and three siblings. Washpun’s funeral is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday at Gay and Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service, with visitation from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

• Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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