Lexington County teen had future at USC, in military. Family, friends mourn his death

Gilbert graduate killed in wreck is remembered by friends

Elijsha Hall and Garrett Knight visit the site where their friend, Timothy Robert "TJ" Langfitt Jr., died in a car crash Monday night on Cedar Grove Road near Gilbert.
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Elijsha Hall and Garrett Knight visit the site where their friend, Timothy Robert "TJ" Langfitt Jr., died in a car crash Monday night on Cedar Grove Road near Gilbert.

A Lexington County teenager was killed in a car crash Tuesday — less than two weeks after celebrating his high school graduation.

Timothy Robert Langfitt Jr., 18, died when his Mitsubishi Eclipse crashed on Cedar Grove Road near Leesville around 10 p.m. Tuesday, troopers said.

Just 11 days earlier, Langfitt — whom many knew as TJ — graduated from Gilbert High School with plans to attend the University of South Carolina in the fall. The program from the June 1 ceremony indicates he graduated with honors.

"If you could ever make a model of the perfect teenager, he would be it," said William Thompson, 60, former youth director at Beulah United Methodist Church in Gilbert, where Langfitt worshiped regularly with his family. "His parents taught him extremely well."

Some pictures online show Langfitt working on houses during the Salkehatchie Summer Service, a church mission that rehabs homes for needy residents.

In addition to being heavily involved in his church, Langfitt played football, soccer and wrestled at Gilbert High, where he also was a member of the National Beta Club and the JROTC, according to the Gilbert High School 2018 annual.

Pages in the yearbook offer a glimpse into his involvement in school activities. In one picture, a referee holds Langfitt's wrist in the air after a wrestling match. The caption says his favorite wrestling move was the "misdirection" move.

"One of my friends told me about wrestling, and I just fell in love with it," he said, according to the annual.

People who knew Langfitt recalled his outgoing, humorous personality. His senior quote in the yearbook came from Apple founder Steve Jobs: "If you want to make everyone happy, don't be a leader — sell ice cream."

"He loved to joke around," said Thompson, who knew Langfitt for several years through the church's youth activities. "You could say he was a class clown in a good way. He knew when to cut it off. He loved people around him. He loved friends. He always had a hug for everybody."

Friends turned out Wednesday at the scene of the accident to pay their respects.

"He was the greatest friend I ever had," Elijsha Hall said while at the Cedar Grove Road site. "When I wrestled with him at Gilbert, he would practice with me, and I'm a heavyweight and he was a lightweight, little toothpick. He worked his tail off. Me and him pushed each other."

Garrett Knight remembered Langfitt as "such an amazing guy."

"He was that type of guy that was so warm and friendly to so many people," Knight said. "He would call his dad 'Diddy.' We always thought that was funny."

Condolences and memories of Langfitt poured out on Twitter and Facebook.

"TJ was a huge part of our wrestling team, never had a bad day," the Gilbert High wrestling team said on Twitter. "You never had to coach his effort or worry about the group as a whole, he did what a senior leader would do."

Several other wrestling teams and people who knew Langfitt tweeted memories or condolences with the hashtag #wrestleforTJ. In a Facebook post, one friend recalled Langfitt's smile and the way he would snort when she made him laugh.

"You just graduated and was starting your new life," another friend wrote. "Now (you're) flying high with the Angels."

Langfitt wanted to enlist in the military but decided recently to get a college education first, Thompson said. He learned of Langfitt's decision days earlier at Colonial Life Arena after Gilbert High's graduation.

"He was very excited about the future," Thompson said. "He was as excited he was gonna be going to USC."

In a Facebook post before the ceremony, Langfitt's father shared a series of pictures showing his son at different points in his life, with a poignant caption: "Some photos as I look back over TJ's youth as we celebrate him graduating high school today."

Staff photographer Tim Dominick contributed to this story.