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Union County coach found dead on hiking trail
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Union County Lady Panther girl's basketball ocach Mike West, 42, was found dead on a hiking trail outside of Blairsville last Thursday morning.

From all informaiton gathered, WEst went hiking on WEdnesday night in the company of his dog and never returned home.

West's wife, who was out of town, returned to discover the van and the dog missing.

West's wife contacted authroties from the Union County sheriff's department who then began to investigate. A search team found West early Thursday morning next to a tree along one of his favorite hiking trails.

Union County sheriff's department investigators believe that West had a heart attack, but his body was sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab to determine the official cause of death. No foul play is suspected in the death of West.

Union County Superintendent of Schools Tommy Stephens said, "He was somebody that was very much loved by students and faculty and everybody in the school system, so we are certainly grieving our loss right now."

A message about the death of West is posted on the Union County School System Web site. The message says, "Unoin County High School is deeply saddened by the loss of Coach Mike West. Coach West's dedication and love for the game was contagious, and he was respected and loved by the faculty and students at Union County High School. Our hearts go out to his wife, Jeanna, and two sons, Christopher and Clayton."

The funeral for West was held Monday at the First Baptist Church in Blairsville. A memorial fund has  been established for the West family at United Community Bank.

Contributions can be sent to Coach Mike West Memorial Fund, c/o United Community Bank, P.O. Box 398, Blairsville, GA 30514, or call (706) 745-2151.

West was a soccer and basket ball coach at Union County High School. Union County High School is in the same region as Dawson County High School, region 8-AA. The two schools have been highly competitive with each other in the past.