The Auburn football nation is mourning the loss of one of its heroes after former tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen was killed early Sunday morning in a single-car crash south of LaGrange, GA.
Gordy Wright, the Director of Public Information for the Georgia Department of Public Safety/Georgia State Patrol says that Lutzenkirchen was one of four passengers travelling in a 2006 Chevy Tahoe at the intersection of Upper Big Springs Road and Lower Big Springs Road early Sunday morning.
According to Wright, the driver of the vehicle - 22-year old Joseph Ian Davis of Atlanta - was partially ejected while Lutzenkirchen, sitting in the back seat of the vehicle, was ejected. Both Davis and Lutzenkirchen, age 23, were killed.
Two other passengers were injured in the crash. Back seat passenger Elizabeth Craig, age 22 from Eatonton, GA was ejected and taken to West Georgia Medical Center in LaGrange. Front seat passenger Christian Case of Dadeville, AL, who was wearing a seat belt, was treated and released from West Georgia Medical.
Jeff Cook, Chief Coroner of Troup County, GA says that driver Davis ran a stop sign and lost control of his vehicle. The Tahoe travelled nearly 500 feet, flipped and came to rest in the back yard of a church. PIO Wright of the Georgia State Patrol adds the Tahoe came to rest on the roof. He says that blood was drawn to determine if alcohol was a contributing factor in the crash.
Philip Lutzkenkirchen enjoyed a spectacular football career at Auburn University. While he is perhaps best known for hauling in the game-winning catch from Cam Newton at the 2010 Iron Bowl, he also caught 13 other TD passes in his career, placing him number one in AU history for tight ends. In 2012, Lutzenkirchen suffered a severe hip injury against Ole Miss, but worked hard to re-hab the hip in hopes of playing in the NFL. Lutzenkirchen signed a free agent deal with the St Louis Rams, but was released in 2013. This spring he had been volunteering with the football team at St James School in Montgomery.
Philip Lutzenkirchen was beloved by the Auburn family and respected by is opponents. His parents, Mike & Mary, were perhaps more proud of their son's faith and his giving spirit than they were of any football accomplishment. And Philip's sister Abby, a soccer player at the University of Alabama, as seen in a story last fall on FOX6, was certainly proud of her 'bro.
While former and current players, coaches, friends and fans have taken to Twitter to express their sympathy, funeral arrangements are pending.
This afternoon, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs released the following statements about the passing of Lutzenkirchen:
Gus Malzahn, AU Football Coach
"I'm deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Philip Lutzenkirchen. He was a great young man who touched the lives of everyone he knew in a positive way. On the field, Philip was a great player and competitor, but more importantly, he was a great teammate and friend off the field. My thoughts and prayers are with Philip's parents, Mike and Mary, and all of his family and friends who are grieving his passing. This is a sad day for the entire Auburn family. I find peace knowing that even though Philip was taken from us too soon, that he lived his life to the fullest, leaving a lifetime of great memories for his family and friends to cherish forever."
Jay Jacobs, AU Director of Athletics
"Philip's death is a devastating tragedy for his family, the Auburn family and his countless friends. Today is also a profoundly sad day for the Auburn Athletics family, who loved and respected Philip not only as a great player but more importantly as a friend and the epitome of an Auburn man. I came to know Philip well and I admired everything about who he was and the way he lived his life. He had a strong faith, a big heart and a burning desire to help others. Philip was a bright light this world desperately needed, and his death leaves a void that can't possibly be filled. My prayers, my thoughts and my heart go out to his wonderful parents, Mike and Mary, their entire family and his many grieving friends."
Auburn officials are expected to release more information soon.
Copyright 2014 WBRC. All rights reserved.
1720 Valley View Drive