Former University of Georgia champion sprinter Torrin Lawrence died early Monday morning in a car accident on Interstate 75 near Cordele, the school confirmed.
UGA officials said Lawrence was likely traveling home to Jacksonville, Fla., when a tire on his car went flat. Police reports indicate his car was disabled in a southbound lane when it was struck from behind by a tractor trailer. Lawrence was thrown from the car and died at the scene.
“I am shocked and pained with news of Torrin’s death,” Georgia track coach Wayne Norton said in a news release distributed by UGA. “First, my prayers for comfort are for Torrin’s mother and family. Second, this makes me reflect on Torrin and remember him as one of the greatest talents I have ever seen in our sport and as gentle man.”
Lawrence, whose UGA career was completed in 2012, captured SEC and NCAA titles, set a collegiate record and still holds three school records during collegiate career. He graduated with a degree in sociology in 2013.
Lawrence was competing and training as a professional in Atlanta and representing USA Track & Field in international competitions.
“We were devastated to learn of Torrin’s passing early this morning,” USA Track & Field CEO Max Siegel said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and everyone who knew him. Torrin represented USATF with pride and passion, and had an incredible future ahead of him. We join those who will miss him deeply.”
As a first-year freshman, Lawrence captured the 2009 SEC indoor 200-meter dash title in his first league meet. He was an All-American in the same event with a seventh-place national finish before being named the 2009 SEC Freshman Runner of the Year.
In 2010, Lawrence was named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Male Track Athlete of the Year after earning the organization’s South Region Athlete of the Year as a freshman the year before. He highlighted his sophomore year by winning the SEC and NCAA championships in the indoor 400. This remains the only indoor NCAA title in a sprints event for the Bulldog men in history.
Lawrence set a collegiate record in the 300 that still remains (32.32). He owns three of the top 10 times in the indoor 400 in collegiate track history, topping out at his 45.03 set at the 2010 Tyson Invitational which is fourth on the all-time list. Lawrence still owns UGA’s 200 (20.77), 400 (45.03) and 4×400 relay (3:06.97) records.
Lawrence earned yet another All-America certificate at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships with a runner-up finish in the 400. During his final season in 2012, he captured the SEC indoor 400 crown and brought home his fourth All-America certificate at the NCAA finals.
“Whenever our precious young people die, it’s a tragedy which is not be easy for many of us to get over,” Georgia’s Norton said. “Torrin was an easy person to get along with and almost always improved the atmosphere wherever he went. He did some great things in track and for UGA, and in fact, made history at UGA by winning an individual men’s NCAA championship in a running event. Torrin was one of the world’s greatest indoor 300/400 runners when you look at his accomplishments.
“With all of that said, one of the first memories that came to my mind after getting the news from one of my coaches was one from away from the track when Torrin was attending the church where I was and he was baptized after one of the services. I thank God for Torrin Lawrence. I pray for all of his classmates, teammates and coaches who are grieving and trying to understand why we lost one of the good guys.”
Arrangements are presently incomplete.