Heritage football team, community remember friend
by John A. Winters
Henson's funeral will be today at 4 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Newnan, 15 West Washington St.
Saturday night, members of The Heritage School football team broke with tradition and gathered at the Olive Garden restaurant.
During football season, they would meet on Thursdays before the game. This time it was different.
There was an empty seat next to Tyler Bean, a senior and offensive lineman. It was reserved for one of his best friends, Tyler Henson. Both made All-State in football in the 2012 season.
But Henson would not be making any more of those pre-game dinners. He was killed in a single-vehicle accident Saturday morning.
Shock ran through the tightly-knit private school community as word spread of the accident on Brimer Road just after 9 a.m. Henson was on his way to pick up his girlfriend, a student at Northgate High School.
The Georgia State Patrol said Henson was driving his Chevy Tahoe when he left the roadway and traveled about 200 feet before striking a culvert. The impact vaulted the car into the air, where it traveled about 70 feet before striking several trees and landing upside down. He was the only occupant.
People began congregating at the home of Bart Henson, Tyler's uncle and firefighter with the Newnan Fire Department, hours after the accident.
Later Saturday afternoon, faculty, staff and students went to Heritage.
"It was just a chance for us to get together," said Kevin Prisant, who coached Henson for two years in football. "We said a few prayers and just told stories about Tyler."
By later that day, upwards of 200 people had arrived.
"The thing I will remember is his goofy persona and the way he was," Prisant said. "He just enjoyed life to the fullest, whether it was football or classes. He had fun in every aspect of life.
"He was getting recruited heavily," he added. "We was just one of a kind, a true All-American."
Sunday, the various sports teams at Heritage gathered again. Youth ministers, pastors and coaches spoke in turn.
"We are just trying to help them get through this," Prisant said.
At 6 p.m., the school held an open visit, and hundreds came.
"It was very touching and humbling for the Henson family," Prisant said. "There were a lot of students from Newnan, East Coweta, Northgate, Trinity and others.
"It was very first class… everyone just pulled together," he added. "It's just unbelievable the support that is being shown."
On Monday, students throughout Coweta County wore royal blue shirts with the number "8" written on their hands. It was Henson's number.
Tonight at 6:30 p.m., the Henson family will receive visitors at McKoon Funeral Home, 38 Jackson St. in Newnan.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Tyler Henson Memorial Scholarship Fund at The Heritage School, 2093 Highway 29 North, Newnan, GA 30263.