Signing of Tyler's Law Closes Painful Chapter

There are few things as precious in life as the time a grandfather gets to spend with his grandchildren. Bill Batson loved to take his grandson Tyler to Carolina home football games with him. When a senseless car accident took Tyler's life, the Gamecock community rallied around him and his family. Now a law has been passed to prevent other families from suffering as Tyler's did.

It may start out as simply a message board for fans of a specific college team, but internet sites like GamecockAnthem.com gain a sense of community as people develop relationships online as they share their passion for their team; and while doing so, they share something about themselves as well. So it is not unusual to sign on to GamecockAnthem or other similar fan message boards and see a thread asking for prayer. In August 2006, the Anthem community rallied around two of their own when the news of the tragic death of 15 year old Tyler Durham broke.

Bill Batson, better known online as "Batcock," was Tyler's grandfather. His aunt, Rosevelyn Cooper, better known as "Megacockfan," is one of the more prolific Gamecock posters. Both made tributes to their lost loved one as a signature at the bottom of each post they make. Because both are so well known and loved on GamecockAnthem, the news of Tyler's death hit the entire online community hard, and they poured out their love to them.

A teenage friend of Tyler's had invited him to take a ride in his new car on that tragic night in August of 2006. The driver of the car was driving illegally at the time, because it was after the 8 pm curfew required by his restricted license. Tyler's mother, Erin Durham, said, "The driver was traveling at a high rate of speed and on an unfamiliar road and he lost control of the vehicle. She told the Pickens Sentinel, "If he had not been allowed by his parents to drive a vehicle after hours, then Tyler would not have been in that car. I think it's very important for parents to be held liable for the decisions they know their children are making."

Bill Batson was a high school classmate of South Carolina State Senator Mike Fair, and contacted him about drafting legislation to protect other children and their families from experiencing similar unnecessary tragedies. Fair sponsored the legislation which became known as Tyler's Law, and in early June 2008, Governor Mark Sanford signed it into law. The new law makes parents more accountable for their children's actions behind the wheel, instituting penalties for parents who knowingly allow their teenagers to violate drivers' license restrictions. Fair said, "There was a little place in the law like a nerve sticking out, and this bill attempts to cover it. I think underage kids driving can be a significant safety problem. This will make all of us think about our day to day activities, if done outside the law can have dire consequences."

Tyler was a talented three sport athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball. Tyler was on the inaugural Dacusville Middle School baseball team in 2004 that went undefeated, 21-0, and won the conference championship. At the time of his death, Tyler was a member of the Pickens High School football and baseball teams. Pickens High School coaches give out a sportsmanship award in his honor. "It just gives you a good feeling that people are going to remember him – (he's) not going to be forgotten," Batson told the Pickens paper.

The accident happened just a block away from the Pickens County baseball field he often played at. The baseball field was named at the beginning of this season in his honor, and is now known as "Andrew Tyler Durham Memorial Field," which is located at 183 Shoals Creek Church in Easley. At the dedication Tyler's younger brother Blake threw out the ceremonial "first pitch," and his Dad Jody caught it. Blake was wearing Tyler's middle school jersey, and Jody was wearing Tyler's baseball cap. His grandfather said, "In a twist of irony, Tyler was transported by ambulance to this very field after the accident to be medivaced by helicopter to Greenville Memorial Hospital. He actually died as he was being place in the helicopter as it sat in centerfield."



Tyler's stated goal was to become a college baseball player, hopefully for the Gamecocks. His grandfather said he was small in stature, but big in heart. His grandfather is friends with former Gamecock assistant coach Jim Washburn, who is currently an assistant with the NFL's Tennessee Titans. Washburn sent workout programs to Tyler and talked to him on the phone about them. Tyler "followed them to the letter," according to his grandfather.

Batson said Tyler's most lasting legacy would be his faith. He said, "Tyler was a Christian boy who loved to share his faith with any and all, adults and kids alike." Senator Fair, talking of Tyler's legacy, quoted Cory Ten Boom, who saved the lives of many from the Nazi atrocities in World War Two. "She said 'Joy runs deeper than despair,' and (Tyler's) family can give testimony to this."

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