BYU fan, alumnus dies in LaVell Edwards Stadium

Posted at 9:18 PM, Sep 30, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-02 16:16:31-04

PROVO -- A BYU alumnus and longtime football fan died at LaVell Edwards stadium Friday night.

Eighty-one-year-old David Pinckney was looking forward to BYU's game against Middle Tennessee State, but he collapsed before kickoff.

He was a season ticket holder, a rabid fan and former BYU football player.  As shocked as his family is, they're grateful he passed away surrounded by the fans and the team he loved.

"Number 40 is my handsome football husband Dave," said Joy Pinckney as she flipped through a BYU yearbook.

She’s remembering how she met the love of her life.

"He was at the peak of his youth," Joy said with a smile.

On the yearbook pages, a younger David Pinckney was shown at the school he adored, BYU, where he was a running back in the mid-1950s.  After college, he became a teacher and high school football coach.

In his later years Dave Pinckney was spotted at Cougar games for 15 years straight.

"He was a fanatic, we'd talked for hours before and after games," said Dave Pinckney’s son Michael.

But on Friday night, a faithful tradition was broken as Dave Pinckney and his wife walked through the stadium tunnel to their seats.

"I turned around and there he was going straight down," said Joy Pinckney.

Dave Pinckney may have suffered a heart attack his family says.  As he collapsed, his head hit the concrete.

"All of a sudden this lady comes running up to the stands, ‘I believe your dad has been in a horrible accident," said Michael Pinckney.

From the north end of the stadium, the bleacher where he always sat next to dad, Michael Pinckney rushed to where paramedics were trying to resuscitate his father.

"They tried their hardest and I said 'please save my daddy,’” said daughter Elizabeth 'Liz' Johnson.

But before the ambulance even left the stadium, "I looked at him and I knew he was gone," Johnson said.

"We just count the blessings that he died instantly," Joy Pinckney said.

She’s also grateful Dave Pinckney was surrounded by the game he loved.

"They all said what a way for Dave to go," Joy Pinckney said.

As hard as it may be for the Pinckneys, they'll be back to watch the Cougars.

"That's the first thing I said to my mom, do you feel like you're gonna be able to go to the games and she said, 'for dad ‘yes,’” Johnson said.

Michael Pinckley agreed.

"That's what he would want us to do as a family to bind us together, to go to the game and carry on that legacy," he said.

David Pinckney leaves behind a wife and six children.  He’ll be laid to rest Thursday morning.

Duff Tittle has worked in BYU's athletic department for more than 20 years. He said he can't remember when anyone has died in the stadium.  The BYU Cougars are working on signing a football and presenting a flag to the Pinckney family to remember David Pinckney and his love for the sport and team.