Mountain View High School soccer player and rising senior Perez G. Tamfu had it all.
Good grades. Athleticism. But more importantly, a good heart.
“I think that’s one thing that is really affecting everybody,” Tamfu’s former coach Shane Pulliam told Channel 2 Action News. “The loss of not just a teammate but a friend as well.”
Tamfu, 17, of Lawrenceville, died Sunday after he jumped from an old bridge structure at Settles Bridge Park in Suwanee and into the Chattahoochee River, Gwinnett fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge said in an emailed statement.
“He resurfaced and appeared to be in distress,” Rutledge said. “One of his friends and a second (person) initially tried to rescue the man, but said that he became combative and went back underwater and did not resurface.”
About 9 p.m., the Gwinnett Fire Swift Water Rescue Team found Tamfu at the bottom of the river in about 10 feet of water. He was 50 yards downstream from the bridge, Rutledge said.
It is illegal, officials said, to climb on or jump from the old bridge structure. And Tamfu was not wearing a life jacket, which is “required on the river at Settles Bridge,” Rutledge said.
After bringing Tamfu to shore, paramedics gave him advanced life support measures and took him to Northside Hospital-Forsyth. He was pronounced dead shortly after he arrived at the hospital, officials said.
“He worked hard and always had a smile on his face,” Pulliam said. “He always made everyone laugh.”
Tamfu was one of two Gwinnett soccer players who died in weekend incidents. Rising Parkview High School junior Michael Jones, 16, died Saturday after collapsing during soccer practice with the Atlanta Fire United club.
“We have two different school communities that are dealing with (tragedies),” Roach told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Teachers and counselors returned to work this week and they are getting ready to support students when they return.”
Parkview High School coach Dan Klinect told The AJC he was particularly shocked by Jones’ death given how fit he was.
“The whole thing is so shocking because you wouldn’t think someone with his athleticism would pass away from cardiac arrest,” Klinect said. “That’s what I’m trying to grasp and understand.”
Three Parkview students have died this summer, principal David Smith said in a statement.
“As our teachers and counselors head back to school this week we are working to ensure that we are prepared to support students who are grieving over the loss of their friends,” Smith said in the release. “To lose one student over the summer is tragic. To lose three is even more heartbreaking for our community. We will pull together and be there for each other during this difficult time, knowing that there will be some sad times ahead for all of us touched by these losses.”
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