When his own four children were too old to need a Little League coach, Peyton Underwood coached other people’s children. He also worked behind the plate as an umpire.
And when he wasn’t with his family or cheering on his beloved Georgia Bulldogs, Underwood ran his own business, making real estate signs.
“He was such a hard worker,” Linda Ratke, a family friend, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Underwood was working early Saturday, placing signs along Mars Hill Road, when he was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver, according to Cobb County police. Underwood, 50, was standing outside of his truck when he was hit by 48-year-old Kenneth Lee Chitwood, police said.
Underwood died after being transported to WellStar Kennestone Hospital. Chitwood, of Acworth, wasn’t injured and was arrested at the scene of the wreck after a police officer smelled alcohol on him, a Cobb County arrest warrant states.
“Officer Bultman observed Mr. Chitwood swaying and stumbling,” the arrest warrant states. “Mr. Chitwood lost his balance three times which required assistance from Officer Bultman to keep Mr. Chitwood from falling.”
Chitwood was charged with first degree vehicular homicide, driving under the influence of alcohol and failure to maintain lane. He was booked into the Cobb County jail, where he was being held Monday night without bond.
News of Underwood’s death came as a shock to many in the community, including those who knew him from youth baseball to his work with real estate agents.
“If you needed a big wooden sign for your property, he was the guy to call,” Terri Schrews, a real estate agent, said Monday afternoon. “He was hand on, very friendly, easygoing and professional.”
Members of Underwood’s Paulding County community have rallied to support his family, which includes wife Lisa and four children. An online fundraising site, created by Bryan Pritchard, passed its goal and was continuing to gather donations late Monday. Those wishing to donate online can visit the “go fund me” page for Underwood.
Donations can also be made at any Wells Fargo bank to the “J. Peyton Underwood Memorial Fund,” Ratke said. On Saturday beginning at 11 a.m., Los MaGueys restaurant will host a community fundraiser. Manager Jesus Rodriguez says the restaurant will donate 50 percent of sales Saturday to the Underwood family. Underwood ate at the restaurant several times a week, including grabbing takeout hours before he died, Rodriguez said.
“We want to help the family as much as we can,” Rodriguez said.
Visitation for Underwood will be held Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at Winkenhofer Pine Ridge Funeral Home in Kennesaw. His funeral will be held Thursday at 2 p.m. at the funeral home.