Former Winfield High baseball star killed by train
WINFIELD, W.Va. - Soft sobs and sniffles, sounds uncommon at the baseball diamond, gave way to laughter and friends whooping and hollering as they remembered a young man killed by a train.
Friends identified him as Tyler Kincaid of Scott Depot, a 2011 graduate of Winfield High School. Kincaid, a standout on Winfield's team who had just wrapped up his first season at West Virginia State University, was struck and killed about 3 a.m. Sunday.
They said he had been walking along the railroad tracks between Hedrick and Joyce roads near the Scott Depot Sheetz. Putnam Sheriff's deputies are investigating but couldn't be reached for comment Sunday.
Clint Arnold was in church when he heard the news. He said he nearly fell off the pew.
His son, Barrett, played baseball at Winfield with Kincaid and his younger brother, Dustin. The Kincaid family was the first the Arnolds met when they moved to Putnam County from Philadelphia in 2009.
Barrett and Dustin had been "shoulder to shoulder" since then, Clint said, adding his son was also close to Tyler.
"She said 'Tyler's gone,' " Arnold said after a candlelight vigil at Winfield High School's baseball field. "I didn't hear another word the pastor said."
Barrett drove from the University of Northern Kentucky straight to the Kincaid home after hearing about Tyler. He went straight to Dustin, Arnold said. Barrett and Megan Hathaway, who was class president at Winfield in 2011, organized the vigil.
More than 100 people packed into the bleachers at the Putnam County high school. They cried during the prayers and an impromptu rendition of "Amazing Grace." There was also laughter as friends told stories of Tyler playing baseball, fishing and playing video games late at night.
Baseball was a way of life for Tyler. He'd played since he was a boy and had always been a star player, but also was humble and showed leadership qualities from an early age, said Steven Gunter, who coached him from Little League until his teen years.
"In a blowout game in Little League he'd ask if we could put some of the other players in and he'd say 'Things will be OK, coach,' " Gunter said. "Same thing in a tight game, he'd say 'Things will be OK, coach' and then go in and hit a home run."
Gunter called him the "perfect teammate." His son played baseball with Tyler for years, though they went their separate ways in college, Zach Gunter going to catch at the University of Charleston and Tyler going to pitch and play infield at State.
Gunter said the young men never had the opportunity to play against each other.
"He was the hardest working kid I ever met," Arnold said. "He was a battler. He practiced hard and played hard.
"But he was also a humble kid. Quick to smile. Serious, but didn't take himself too seriously. He'd never quit and he'd battle anybody."
The former Winfield High standout was an infielder for the West Virginia State Yellow Jackets. He was studying criminal justice at State.
He was a shortstop and pitcher for the Generals and was First Team All-State in 2011, his senior year at Winfield. He was Second Team All-State in 2009 and 2010, according to State's baseball roster.
He listed his little brother as the biggest influence in his life. Tyler already had moved on to collegiate play when Dustin was struck in the temple by a line drive while pitching against Huntington in a March 2012 game.
Doctors performed emergency surgery on his skull and he was playing ball again five months later. Dustin joined Tyler at State in 2012. They were one of four pairs of brothers on the Yellow Jackets team.
"Dustin told us Tyler was a real important piece for him getting over that," said Sean Loyd, athletic director and assistant baseball coach at State.
Loyd called Tyler an "excellent" player and a hard worker. Tyler missed a season due to an elbow injury but had been ready to go for his second season.
"He was a fun kid to coach and would try anything," Loyd said. "When he got on the field it was always very exciting."
His teammates at State expressed condolences on social media.
Jordan Simpson, a Man High graduate and freshman pitcher and infielder at State, tweeted "RIP Tyler Kincaid. One of my best friends from school and bus partner. Best teammate guy could ask for. Love u buddy. Praying for your family"
He posted several pictures of his teammate fishing, a hobby Tyler enjoyed.
His teammates were shocked at his death.
"At a loss for words a great teammate and an even better person," tweeted Devin Bowles, a junior pitcher on the team.
Loyd said he'd talked to several players on the phone Sunday and that many of them were expressing shock. He said the team was close knit and really cared about each other.
"These college athletes, they look like men and women, but really they're still kids," Loyd said. "They need support and guidance."
Information on arrangements was unknown Sunday evening.
Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at email@example.com or 304-348-4850.
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