A Columbia resident and A.C. Flora High School graduate was killed Thursday while riding a bicycle in downtown Charleston.
Christopher Bates, 21, died from head trauma at Medical University Hospital, Charleston County Deputy Coroner Brittney Martin said Friday.
Bates, a son of former longtime South Carolina ACLU director Steve Bates, was hit by a car as he rode a bicycle on Meeting Street, Martin said.
Bates was remembered Friday by those who knew him as a smart and gregarious young man with a bright future. He was the “ultimate teammate” on A.C. Flora’s baseball team, said Andy Hallett, the program’s longtime head coach.
Bates wasn’t a superstar and didn’t play often on the 2012 Falcons baseball team that won a state championship, appearing usually as a backup catcher when the starter went in to pitch, Hallett said.
But Bates’ attitude was “infectious,” Hallett said, and he was always there to pat teammates on the back when they had a tough game and to high-five them when they played well.
He was what you hoped that all your players could become.
A.C. Flora baseball coach Andy Hallett
“He was what you hoped that all your players could become,” Hallett said. “He never had a bad word to say about anybody. He was always the one to cheer people on.”
Jake Lewis, 21, who grew up playing baseball with Bates and also played on Flora’s state championship team, said Bates had a contagious smile and went out of his way to make others happy.
Lewis, who also attends the College of Charleston, said Bates never once forgot to call on his birthday and always stopped to talk when they ran into each other on campus. Once, Lewis said, Bates made himself late for a test because he had seen Lewis on the way and stopped to chat.
“He would find a way to make you smile no matter what,” Lewis said. “He’d kill you with kindness.”
He would find a way to make you smile no matter what.
Jake Lewis, who grew up playing baseball with Bates
Hallett said Bates was a terrific student who talked about going to medical school after college. He played a year of baseball at USC-Salkehatchie before transferring to the College of Charleston to focus on academics, Hallett said.
“Chris was one of those kids that you always stayed up with because you kind of knew great things were in his future,” Hallett said.
Rick McClure, A.C. Flora’s principal for the past decade, said Bates was the “quintessential high school student that did it all.”
“Chris was a good student, a good athlete, well-liked by everyone at Flora,” McClure said. “This is an absolute tragedy for our school community – a fine young man.”
Hallett said Bates’ shining moment for the Falcons came during a big game leading up to the 2012 state championship. Bates went in to catch, and with two outs in the final inning, he threw out a runner trying to steal second, clinching the win, he said.
“Chris was one of those kids that always worked hard. He was honored and privileged to be a part of the team,” Hallett said. “Being a Falcon baseball player meant a lot to him. And when it came time for him to be able to play, he made the most of it.”
Lewis said Bates was one of the smartest people he knows and that his work ethic was inspiring.
A.C. Flora High School’s baseball team on Thursday posted a Facebook status commemorating Bates.
Charleston Police Department spokesman Charles Francis said Friday the driver of the vehicle that hit Bates will not be charged. Francis said Bates fell off his bicycle before the vehicle hit him.