ASHS grieves loss of student-athlete
By BETH ALSTON
AMERICUS — As grief counselors and school psychologists worked with students, faculty, and staff at Americus-Sumter County High School, a family prepared to bury a son.
Jamarrion Johnson, 17, of Ellaville drowned Saturday afternoon in a private lake three miles west of Andersonville off Ga. Highway 271.
Col. Eric Bryant, chief deputy, Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, told the Times-Recorder authorities were notified at 5:15 p.m. Sheriff’s personnel, Sumter County Fire & Rescue and its dive team, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and EMS responded.
Bryant said three friends, including Johnson, were fishing in a boat with an electric motor when the battery went dead. Johnson and one of the young men decided to swim to shore which was about 200 yards away. He said Johnson, who is a student-athlete being a linebacker on the Panther football team as well as a baseball player, outdistanced the other guy but when Johnson was within about 30 ft. of shore, he went under. The friend tried to retrieve him but couldn’t. He swam on to shore and called 911.
David Baldwin, a member of the dive team that retrieved the body, said Johnson was found in 15 to 18 ft. of water and had been underwater for between 45 minutes to an hour. Johnson was transported to Phoebe Sumter Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Bryant said members of the Panther football team gathered at the hospital after their teammate was brought in and after Johnson’s mother went home, they followed and just hung out there to offer comfort.
Americus-Sumter High School Principal, Kimothy Hadley, said this of Johnson.
“Jamarrion was an all-around great kid. His demeanor and personality electrified the halls of our school and radiated throughout our building. He was a great kid. He was very smart and was a great student as well. His presence will be sorely missed. It will take the entire Panther Nation to overcome his loss. We have provided grief counselors and school psychologists to help our students and staff come to terms with the loss. We’ll really miss him.”
Panther coach and athletic director, Erik Soliday, said, “Jamorrian was a great kid. He was always smiling and was always in a good mood. He made practice fun for his teammates. He always played wide open, at full speed. He had a contagious spirit that would spread to others. He made the other players work hard as well. We’re really going to miss him.”
A funeral service is planned for 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 4 at Kingdom Hall of Jehovah Witnesses, Americus with burial following in Hopewell Cemetery, Ellaville. Oglethorpe Funeral Chapel is handling arrangements.