TULSA — When he's not coaching golf at Bethel High School, Jason Crouch works as a Shawnee police officer. He deals with thieves and drug dealers. Abusive and malicious people.
That's why Crouch can't make his mind rationalize what happened Monday evening, and why one of his closest friends is gone.
Bethel golfer Kyle Lewis died Monday when his Chevrolet pickup left the road and struck a bridge embankment, not long after he competed in the All-State golf tournament in Broken Arrow.
"I deal with a lot of the bad element of society, and you see some of them live long lives," Crouch said. "And then you've got a kid who has never done anything bad to anyone — and so young.
"That's the hardest thing for me. He was just so young and had everything in front of him. It's just so hard to understand why it had to happen. It's hard to rationalize for me, because there are a lot of memories with me and Kyle."
A vigil will be held for Lewis tonight at 6:30 at the Bethel High School gym. Funeral services are set for Friday at 10 a.m., also at the Bethel gym.
Several of Lewis' teammates and friends were cleaning the gym Tuesday morning so it would be spotless for the service.
"That was part of the healing process for them. They wanted to do something," said Bethel administrator and girls basketball coach Jerry Johnson. "This has just wrecked the community.
"When we were trying to find a place for the service, Kyle's mother said he spent hours and hours at that gym. He loved it there."
Last week, Crouch served as Lewis' caddy for a U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament in Fort Worth, Texas. After that, Lewis went to Hot Springs, Ark., where he spent a few days relaxing and golfing with his grandfather.
In Monday's tournament, Lewis was grouped with friend Deer Creek's Ian Davis, who made a hole-in-one. The two had become friends through swing coach Steve Ball and through meetings on the junior circuit.
"I was already home when Zach Tucker from Putnam City North called me and told me about the accident," Davis said. "I didn't know what to think. I didn't believe it at first."
The tragic news followed an enjoyable two days in Tulsa for Davis and Lewis.
"We roomed together in the dorms (at Oral Roberts) before the tournament," Davis said. "He helped me with my fantasy football league picks. We just hung out and had a lot of fun.
"Kyle signed my hole-in-one sheet as a witness. That was the last time I talked to him. That sheet has a different meaning now."
Lewis' absence will leave a gaping hole in the lives of those who knew him.
"I've been at Bethel for 25 years and watched Kyle grow up," Johnson said. "I've known his parents for years. I know how great a kid he was. There was no limit to what he could've accomplished in life."
Added Crouch: "I don't know how some of us will get by. We will, because we have to. Life will go on, but it won't go on the same."