The Washington Post

Auburn fans roll Toomer’s Corner to honor ex-player killed in car accident

Auburn fans honored and mourned Philip Lutzenkirchen on Sunday, hours after the former tight end was killed in an auto accident, with a touching tribute: They rolled the trees at Toomer’s Corner with toilet paper, just as they do after big victories.

Fans started rolling the trees at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, in a nod to the No. 43 he wore. Lutzenkirchen, who holds the school’s all-time touchdowns record at tight end, was a member of the 2010 national championship team. He scored the go-ahead touchdown in the 2010 Iron Bowl, forever endearing him to Auburn fans.

(Seth Perlman / AP) (Seth Perlman / AP)

Lutzenkirchen, 23, was killed just after 3 a.m. in a single-vehicle accident in LaGrange, Ga., when the Chevy Tahoe in which he was a passenger failed to stop at an intersection, then traveled about 450 feet through a churchyard, rolling several times, according to police. Lutzenkirchen was ejected from the back seat of the vehicle and died at the scene. He was not wearing a seat belt, according to

The driver, Joseph Ian Davis, also died in the crash in which two other passengers were injured. Davis had been cut from the University of Georgia baseball team last fall. It is not certain whether alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Lutzenkirchen’s college career was ended by a hip injury midway through the 2012 season. He signed with the St. Louis Rams as a free agent, but was cut before the season began. Since his athletic career ended, he had worked at a wealth-management company and had volunteered as an assistant coach at a Montgomery, Ala., high school.

“He was compassionate, determined, honorable and full of love, integrity and respect. In 27 years of coaching, I have come across what I would consider to be a few ‘rare’ young men. Phillip was certainly one of those ‘rare’ ones,” former Auburn coach Gene Chizik said in a statement. “He truly, lived his life for other people and always found time to give to others. His family values taught him to be a great friend and teammate of everyone he came in contact with. My deepest sympathy is extended to his parents Mike and Mary, his sisters, and all of his extended family. We should all begin by honoring his life because he lived a life worthy of that. In his 23 short years, he has certainly left an impactful legacy to everyone he touched. I will miss him deeply.”

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.



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