Carver High baseball coach David Pollard died Monday after he was involved in a three-vehicle wreck caused by a stolen car at the intersection of Buena Vista and Andrews roads, officials said.
Pollard, 36, died of blunt-force trauma at 1:52 p.m., chief deputy coroner Freeman Worley said. The cause of death will be confirmed after an autopsy.
Pollard was married with one daughter.
“All of us within the MCSD are shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Coach David Pollard,” superintendent David Lewis told the Ledger-Enquirer. “He was liked and respected by all who knew him, and the students he taught and coached have been profoundly touched by this senseless tragedy. Our heartfelt sympathy and prayers go out to his family as we rally in support of them during this difficult time.”
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A witness said he saw the collision and checked on Pollard, who he couldn’t get out of the vehicle. He said he saw the other driver run away from the scene.
Columbus Sgt. Fred Carnes said a stolen silver Audi hit Pollard’s silver Chevrolet sedan and knocked the car into a black truck.
The driver of the stolen vehicle left on foot, going south on Andrews Road, Carnes said, and has not been found.
He was described as a black male in his early 20s who appeared to be around 6-foot-1 and weighing 145 pounds. He was wearing dark clothes and has injuries, officials said.
Police are asking the public to call 911 if they see anyone matching that description.
Carnes said Monday evening authorities are investigating whether there was a police pursuit prior to the wreck.
‘He wanted to help the kids’
LaGrange coach David Smart, whose team was scheduled to face Pollard’s Tigers Monday afternoon, said there’s nothing in the coaching book to prepare someone for this.
“David Pollard was a great man,” Smart said. “He was going to the hardware store to pick up some chalk to line fields, and he doesn’t come back.”
Smart said Pollard didn’t just “show up” to work.
“He worked at it. He was important to us, and he was important to his kids,” Smart said. “He was doing everything in his power to turn that program into something that was really, really good.
“I had a lot of respect for David. He took over a situation that probably wasn’t ideal. But he had his guys playing hard, and they got better every time they went out there. I thought a lot of him as a coach, but especially as a person. He’s a real top-shelf guy.”
Longtime coach Charles Flowers said he coached Pollard in baseball and football at Shaw High School. Pollard graduated in 1998.
“I worked with him during the winter, and the day before yesterday he sent me a text message about holding a baseball tournament this summer,” Flowers said. “He was always thinking about how he could help his athletes.”
Flowers said Pollard was dedicated and “didn’t buy into the myth that Carver couldn’t win” at baseball. He wanted to build a program, he said.
“His work ethic was phenomenal. Even when he wasn’t in the game, he had that coaching mentality. He always wanted to make an impact.
“Lord, have mercy,” Flowers said. “It’s just a shock. It’s heartbreaking.”
Columbus High baseball coach Chad Mathis said his team will be there to support Carver.
“This is tough on me, but I can’t imagine what his players are feeling right now,” Mathis said. “... I know how important a coach can be to his athletes. It’s a game, but there are people who can have a big influence. He’s one of them.”
Northside High assistant principal Ricky Stone also coached Pollard in both football and baseball at Shaw. Stone said Pollard took pride in coaching.
“At Carver, where baseball has not always been strong, he took pride in it,” Stone said. “and he wanted to do it the right way and make his kids do the right thing.”
He went into coaching for all the right reasons, Stone said. “That’s the type of person he is. He wanted to help the kids.”
Northside baseball coach Dee Miller said he and Pollard once were talking before a game about Pollard’s daughter but also his Carver kids.
“They were also part of his family,” Miller said. “They were an extension of his home. … I’m just heartbroken for them.”
Miller said his team was stunned when he told them the news.
“I told them the information — that he had been hit and killed by a man in a stolen car — because that’s real,” he said. “… I’ve never had them more silent than when I shared that news with them.
“You lose a brother who is in the same business you are, it hits you. It’s more than coaching for wins. It’s coaching for life.”