Greenbrier High School football players hold a banner in honor of teammate Chris Smith, who drowned over the weekend. (July 21, 2009 WRDW-TV)
News 12 First at Five, July 21, 2009
EVANS, Ga. --- The Greenbrier High School football field will never be the same for the players. That's because their teammate and friend won't be there.
"It shocked everybody that I know of. Nobody could believe it. Everybody called me asking if it was still true and what not," Teammate Blake Ross said.
17-year-old Chris Smith was swimming with three friends at Clarks Hill Lake Saturday when he panicked and went under the water. The coroner believes the drowning was accidental. The family says Chris was a good swimmer.
"Chris, he was basically everything to me. We was real close friends. Great teammate. Can't replace him," Teammate Trevor Jones said.
Trevor says it's been really hard for him, because he was on his way out to the lake to hang out with Chris. Trevor says he had just talked to him on the phone 15 minutes before he drowned.
"Only question is why? Why did it have to be him? Out of all people, because he was a great person," Trevor said.
It's something all the football players want to know: why their friend was taken so soon, and why he drowned when he knew how to swim.
"It doesn't make sense to me, ma'am. God has a plan for all of us. He had a plan for Chris," Teammate Ryan Jacobs said.
Chris was going to be a senior at Greenbrier High School. His coach says he had a bright future and was even getting looks from different colleges.
"He was just so energetic, fun-loving," Coach Brian Smith said. "He was a great leader. He led by example, which is really the only way to lead. And we're just going to miss him."
The school has set up a memorial fund for Smith. You can donate at any Georgia Bank and Trust. The visitation will be Wednesday night from 5 to 8pm at Platts Funeral Home. The funeral will be on Thursday at 11am at West Acres Baptist Church in Evans.