Funerals for two Bluffton baseball players held


LIMA, Ohio -- Two Bluffton University baseball players were laid to rest Thursday, nearly a week after their bus plunged from a highway overpass in Atlanta as the team traveled to a tournament.

At Philippian Missionary Baptist Church, 19-year-old Tyler Williams' cleats and glove sat among flowers. Outside, on display for hundreds of mourners, were pictures from his life, many of them taken in his baseball uniforms.

Bluffton President James Harder described the outfielder as a purposeful man who always wanted to get things done.

"Tyler was already making a difference in this world," he said. "A difference that will now be missing."

Sixty-five miles away in Lewisburg, a service was held for 19-year-old Cody Holp. Mourners held copies of a poem he had written called "I Am" that shared his hopes for his life. In it, he wrote: "I hope to change the world when I die so when looked upon they say he was a good man."

Some sat two to a chair while others watched from televisions in the church's nursery, cafe and a meeting room. The crowd was dotted with the red baseball caps with black bills of the Tri-County North High School baseball team, which Holp, a pitcher, helped lead to a conference championship in 2006.

"Cody wanted people to smile, so he started the contagion by smiling all the time himself. That was his trademark, his signature. That's what makes him so unforgettable and his legacy enduring," the Rev. Mike Pratt said.

Last week's accident killed six people and injured Bluffton's coach and other teammates. The team's bus plunged off an overpass in Atlanta. Investigators say the driver apparently mistook an exit ramp for a highway lane, continuing along it without stopping at a "T" intersection at the top of the ramp. The crash also killed the bus driver and his wife, Jerome and Jean Niemeyer, and players David Betts and Scott Harmon.