Thomson remembers crash victim as ‘great young man’

Christopher Tutt, 20, was killed in a single car crash in Columbia County June 2, 2016

THOMSON, Ga. (WJBF) — Many in Thomson remained in shock Thursday afternoon from the news of the death of one of their favorite sons.

Christopher Tutt, 20, was killed in a single car crash on White Tiger Road in Appling early Thursday morning. By early afternoon, the news had made its way to Thomson High School where Tutt was a star football player from 2011 to 2014.

“It’s been a very tough day for our football team and our community,” said Thomson head football coach Rob Ridings, who coached Tutt during his first season as head coach of the Bulldogs in 2014.

“It’s just a terrible tragedy and another shock for us,” said former Thomson Defensive Coordinator John Barnett.

“Great young man,” said Ridings. “Always had a smile on his face, enjoyed life.”

“Magnetic personality,” agreed Barnett. “A wonderful smile, very outgoing.”

“The family’s a big part of our community and we’ve suffered a great loss here with the passing of Chris and it’s going to take some time for our community to come to grips with that,” Ridings said.

Tutt was one of five members of his family to play for the Bulldogs, including his Dad and brother, as well as uncle Danny Verdun-Wheeler who went on to play for the University of Georgia and in the NFL. Barnett either played with or coached all of the Tutt family members.

“We all hurt,” he said. “And we all try to show as much compassion and love to the family and friends of the one that’s departed. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s so horribly difficult.”

Tutt was getting ready for his sophomore season at Fort Valley State University where he signed to play after his high school career ended. Instead, the community he leaves behind is left to wonder what might have been.

“I think Chris was a young man that had enormous potential and that was going to really excel in the future,” Barnett said. “I think he was going to make a lot of people proud.”

“Be in thoughts and prayers for our community,” Ridings asked of WJBF viewers. “Be in prayer for the Tutt family. It’s a huge loss. I can’t imagine. It’s going to take a lot of healing and a lot of prayer with our kids and it’s something that I know this community can rally around and get past and hopefully do whatever we can do to help the Tutt family right now.”

Tutt’s death is the latest tragedy for the Thomson community. Last month another football player, Drake Widener, was killed in a crash and last summer former Bulldog Quay Cummings drowned.

Tutt’s brother Christian is one of the top college football prospects in the nation and will begin his junior year at Thomson this fall.

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