Thad Akins, the coach of the Spanish Fort High School girls’ basketball team, was killed in an automobile accident on Interstate 65 Thursday night. He was 43.

The Toros had just beaten Gulf Shores 52-35 when he left after the game to attend a coaching clinic in Montgomery. According to officials with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Akins’ Hyundai Santa Fe collided with an International tractor-trailer.

The accident occurred at Mile Marker 153 near Fort Deposit. Akins was pronounced dead at the scene.

On the high school’s Facebook page, Principal Brian Williamson posted this message:

Dear Toro Family,
“It is with an extremely heavy heart that I announce to you that Coach Thad Akins, our Head Girl’s Basketball Coach, passed away in a tragic automobile accident last night. Thad was a true Toro at heart and loved our school and our students more than you could imagine. Today, we have additional staff on hand to be there for our students and ensure that they are taken care of. Spanish Fort is such a tight knit community where we all love and take care of one another. Thad fit perfectly into this family as he loved and cared about our students just as much as he did his own children.
“I ask that you be understanding and patient with our school throughout this grieving period. More importantly, I ask that you keep Thad’s family in your thoughts and prayers. I will provide more information as I receive it. Thank you for your understanding.”

The school sponsored a prayer vigil Friday on The Hill. Planned for Sunday at the Spanish Fort High School Gym is a visitation from 4 to 5 p.m. and a memorial service from 5 to 6 p.m.

Akins is survived by a son and a daughter. Funeral arrangements were not complete at press time.