Taylar Young, a 16-year-old baseball player who tumbled off the back of a car Saturday in a parking lot, died Tuesday from injuries suffered in the fall, according to Anchorage police.
The fall happened around 8:30 p.m., on what started as another in a string of glorious sunny evenings in Anchorage.
Taylar, a catcher and outfielder for South Anchorage High School's junior varsity team, had just wrapped up the season finale against south-side rival Service High at Kosinski Fields.
He was parked across the parking lot, so to catch a ride to his truck he and teammate Wrangel Jensen bounded onto the back of Amanda Hoyt's midnight blue Chevrolet Malibu, still decorated in celebration of her recent graduation from Dimond High. Scrawled on the back window: "So Fine in 09" and "DHS grad!" Amanda, 17, her sister, a cousin and two other girls were inside the small car.
Somehow, Taylar, sitting on the trunk, lost his balance, hit his head on the rear of the car, and then onto the asphalt. He lost consciousness. A police officer started CPR.
But Taylar never woke up.
Amanda and her sister are grieving and not ready to talk publicly about what happened, said their parents, John and Mary Hoyt.
Their family is devastated, too, and their hearts go out to Young's family even though it's hard to know what to say, the parents said.
"I have no words to give them," John Hoyt said.
Jensen was too torn up to talk about it as well.
He gathered with other South High players Tuesday evening at South Anchorage ball fields for a team meeting to mourn the loss.
As South players sat in a circle, the team presented Taylar's dad, Dennis, his son's baseball jersey.
Taylar's brother, Schuyler, 17, put on the gold No. 1 jersey. The team quietly exited the field with their heads hanging and walked to the bleachers near home plate. They ate pizza and cookies and swatted at mosquitoes in the warm evening sun.
South was scheduled to have tryouts for its American Legion Baseball team Tuesday but Taylar's death turned it into a team wake instead. The first game was supposed to be Saturday. That's now the day of Taylar's funeral.
"Everything's on hold right now," said Chris Williams, South's varsity baseball coach. "We know we have to move on, but now it's time to grieve."
After last Saturday's game, Williams left the field and was driving when he got a message on his cell and found out what happened. He rushed to Alaska Regional Hospital.
Crowds of athletes, friends, teachers and family members visited Taylar over the next few days at the hospital. Taylar, who just finished his sophomore year at South, also played football and wrestled for the Wolverines.
"The fourth floor was Taylar Young headquarters," Williams said. "There's been an amazing outreach from everyone."
Dennis Young, a longshoreman who spends most of the year in Anchorage but works from April to September in Juneau, couldn't get a flight from Southeast right away. Jensen's parents, who own an air taxi service in Anchorage, arranged for an early morning charter to bring Taylar's father to Anchorage. The boys' grandparents care for them when their dad is out of town.
"We were really good friends," Jensen said. "We'd hang out after school. He'd come over, grab a Hot Pocket and we'd play X-box."
Taylar's mom, Tammy Hodge, lives in San Antonio, Texas. When she got the call that Taylar was hurt, she called Alaska Regional to get more information on his condition but couldn't find out much.
"Do I need to pack?" Hodge asked the person on the line at the hospital.
"I'm a mother," the woman told her. "You need to pack."
The last time Hodge saw her son was when he visited last summer.
"He hated Texas," she said, laughing. "It's so hot."
They last spoke on Saturday, just hours before his fall.
"I asked what he was doing for Memorial Day weekend," she said. "I wanted to know if he needed any money."
Police are investigating what happened and haven't decided whether to pursue charges, said Lt. Dave Parker. Prosecutors will make that determination, he said. Police were told Amanda was driving slowly.
The Hoyts spoke briefly at their South Anchorage home.
"It's very clear that there's no guilt here but that everybody bears a little bit of responsibility," John Hoyt said.
"All we're thinking about now is that family," Mary Hoyt said.
The Hoyts said they don't know why the boys jumped on the back of their daughter's car.
What happened is life-changing for both families, the Hoyts said.
"They're all good kids, being kids," Mary Hoyt said. Police say there's no indication anyone was drinking. Amanda has registered at University of Alaska Anchorage for fall, her parents said.
She met Taylar through friends. She and her sister both went to the hospital and were welcomed, the Hoyts said.
"She lost a friend, too," her mother said.
Taylar had just turned 16. "He just got his license," Williams said. "The kid's been on cloud nine."
Young wasn't an everyday player, but when he was on the diamond, catcher and outfielder were his best positions, the coach said. He loved leading the pre-game huddle.
"He was the spark plug," Williams said. "He was one of my favorite kids to be around. If he wasn't playing, he was always smiling. You never saw him without South Anchorage baseball gear on.
"Small guy with the heart of a lion. Just a classy kid. I don't throw those words around lightly."
Taylar played outfield Saturday. "He made two catches," Jensen said.
South is retiring No. 1, Williams said. The coach gave Dennis Young his son's old jersey. It was draped over him when he died.
The team just got new jerseys for the American Legion season. Taylar will be buried in the new No. 1, gold with black trim, the one he never got to wear in life.