The following is a commentary blog from FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
Over a month later it remains a head shaker: A vibrant young man killed in the prime of his life.
The legacy of Philip Lutzenkirchen will forever be remembered more for what he did off the field than what he did on it.
And while we continue to pray for Lutz's parents and sisters, news comes today that may have some people ready to judge. I say, 'Back off," and this is why.
The toxicology report is in: At the time of the crash that took his life back on June 29, Philip Lutzenkirchen had a blood alcohol level of 0.377 (the legal limit in the state of Georgia is 0.08).
The driver of the Chevy Tahoe that flipped and ejected Lutzenkirchen, Ian Davis, had a blood alcohol level of 0.17. Davis, like Lutzenkirchen, was legally drunk.
Drunk driving is one of our country's biggest nightmares. It claims the lives of over 10,000 people every year. A life is lost at the hands of a drunk driver once every 48 minutes at a cost of over $51 billion.
The state of Alabama alone averages about 300 drunk driving deaths per year. And what have we learned from the Lutzenkirchen tragedy? Plenty, as the accident was as much about seat belt use as it was about alcohol impairment.
As we all study those toxicology numbers, some may want to take some of the sheen off the Lutzenkirchen shine, somehow rationalizing that Lutz was a bit less than everybody's All-American.
While I would never condone drinking and driving, I would warn those people that Lutz was more than a football player. He was a loving brother, a friend, an advisor and a hero to many.
Let's face it: Good kids drink. Good kids fail to use their seat belt. Good kids don't always make the right decisions. Driver Ian Davis certainly made two bad decisions on June 29: drinking too much and ignoring that seat belt. Does it make Davis any less of a fine son, a loving brother, a good kid?
My teenage son will receive his drivers license in one week and I'm scared to death. Oh, Noah's a great kid, smart and savvy. But he's a kid, and that's what makes me toss and turn.
Has Noah heard about the Lutzenkirchen crash? You bet, and I have been the one who has spread the word. Will Noah make the right decisions in the future? I pray he does, and I hope the terrible crash in LaGrange, Georgia never leaves my son's memory.
In a sad, tearful way, the Lutzenkirchen tragedy has become the perfect public service announcement for young people to heed: don't drink and drive and always wear a seat belt.
Lutzenkirchen's death could very well save many lives in the near future. As we continue to teach our children (family and friends too) about making the right decisions on the road, we need only look at that sad story from June 29 as a perfect warning to all of us.
Just remember never to think of Philip and Ian as anyone but who they were: fine young men whose limitless, bright futures tragically cut short.
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