LAGRANGE, GA (WTVM) - Former Auburn University football star Philip Lutzenkirchen was one of two men killed early Sunday morning in a single-vehicle wreck in rural Troup County. Lutzenkirchen was 23 years old.
According to the Georgia State Patrol, a 2006 Chevy Tahoe driven by Joseph Ian Davis, 22, of Atlanta, missed a stop sign at the intersection of Upper Big Springs Road and Lower Big Springs Road southeast of LaGrange. The vehicle traveled 450 feet past the intersection, flipped several times, and came to rest on its roof in the back yard of Big Springs United Methodist Church. Lutzenkirchen was ejected from the car, Davis partially ejected, and both died on the scene.
Injured in the crash were Elizabeth Craig, 22, from Eatonton, Ga., who was taken to West Georgia Health Systems in LaGrange, and Christian Case, 20, of Dadeville, Ala., who was treated and released. Case was the only one in the vehicle wearing a seat belt.
Blood tests to determine if alcohol was a factor in the crash are pending.
Lutzenkirchen was one of the most popular players at Auburn during his tenure (2009-12) with the Tigers. He is best known for his game-winning catch in the Tigers' come-from-behind win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl, en route to winning the BCS National Championship in 2010.
Lutzenkirchen holds the career mark for TD catches at Auburn with 14. His playing career was cut short by a hip injury suffered versus Ole Miss in 2012. He signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Rams of the NFL, but complications from the hip injury led to his release by the team.
This spring, Lutzenkirchen became a volunteer football coach at St. James School in Montgomery.
Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn released a written statement on Sunday afternoon.
"I am 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, competitor and most importantly, 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 in knowing that even though Philip was taken from us to soon, he lived his life to the fullest, leaving a lifetime of great memories for his family and friends to cherish forever."
Auburn AD Jay Jacobs also offered his condolences.
"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 and I admired everything about who he was and the way he lived his life. He had a strong faith, a big heart and burning desire to help others. Philip was a bright light in this world 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."
In addition, Dozens of former and current players and coaches, friends, former competitors, and fans flooded Twitter to express sadness and sympathy.
Funeral arrangements are pending.