PHIL CAMPBELL – Duane Rhea always keeps a buttton with a picture of his grandson, Tyler, in his pickup truck
Tyler Rhea, who would have turned 18 this week, was killed in a car accident two years ago on July 16, 2005 on County Rd. 81 in Phil Campbell.
"I keep it in my truck all the time," Duane Rhea said. "When Tyler was small, he stayed witih me all the time. He loved to eat canteloupe and watermelon and go hunting and fishing."
Duane Rhea said Tyler, a sophomore football player at Phil Campbell High School, was on his way to pick up a friend to attend the Buckmaster Show in Birmingham, which is a deer hunting expo.
Phil Campbell softball coach Greg Winstead was Tyler's offensive line coach and a classmate of Tyler's father, Barry Rhea.
"When you get a phone call in the morning, you don't think one of your players has been killed," Winstead said. "What do you do? What do you say?"
Winstead said a tree was planted in Tyler's honor outside the Outdoor Education classroom on the Phil Campbell campus.
"They planted a tree, and the sophomore class that year wore sweatbands with his name and No. 64 on them," Winstead said. "No one has worn his football number, and there is a photograph of him in the school's trophy case. I still see people wearing T-shirts that have his name and number on them."
Winstead remembers Tyler as a person liked by everyone.
"He played center and worked hard for us, but more than being a good player, he was a great person," Winstead said. "He was really likable, and everyone loved him. He could just make you laugh all time, without even trying to."