James "Jimmy" Strock was pulled from the Chattahoochee River on Sunday. He went under while swimming with friends Saturday afternoon.
Photo: Family photo
Photo: Family photo

Georgia Tech student drowns in the Chattahoochee; funeral set for Saturday

A second-year Georgia Tech student drowned while swimming with friends in the Chattahoochee River over the weekend, officials said.

James Strock, 19, was last seen Saturday afternoon in the area of the West Palisades Trail at Paces Mill Park, according to school officials. Teams searched through dusk before turning to recovery efforts Sunday morning, dean of students John M. Stein said in a letter to the Georgia Tech community.

A Georgia Tech spokeswoman confirmed Strock’s death Sunday evening after his body was pulled from the river just before 1 p.m. 

Audrey Strock Lovetro said her brother was swimming with friends when he got caught in the current and started to struggle. His friends swam to James immediately, she said, and worked hard to rescue him but could not find him once he went under water.

Strock came from North Carolina to Atlanta to pursue an undergraduate degree in computer engineering at Tech and was particularly interested in robotics and quantum computing. He was set to graduate in 2022.

According to Tech officials, Strock was adopted from Uganda and moved to the United States at age 16. He was an active member of the campus community, attended a campus ministry and could often be found in the recreational center. Strock completed a co-op program with DataPath, a communications and computer software company, in Lawrenceville over the summer.

“Jimmy was a bright light,” his family said in an emailed statement to AJC.com. “He brought laughter and joy to everyone he met and our lives are forever changed by his legacy. We will miss him and love him for the rest of our lives, but we are rejoicing in knowing that he is with Jesus and one day we will see him again.”

A funeral is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Denver Baptist Church in Denver, North Carolina.

The Strock family is asking memorials to be made in James’ honor to Bulamu Children’s Village in Uganda, where he spent much of his life. Checks can be made to the Church at Denver with “Bulamu”in the memo line. 

“On behalf of Georgia Tech, we offer our deepest condolences to James’ family and friends during this difficult time,” Stein said in the letter to students, faculty and staff, which was shared on Reddit. “I have been in constant contact with his family and will continue to be there to support them.”

Grief counseling is available on campus from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the week at the campus Counseling Center and in the student services building. Students may also call 404-894-2575 for support after hours.

— Please return to AJC.com for updates.

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