A Fitzgerald High School football player died today, and the Fitzgerald community is in mourning.
D. J. Searcy collapsed during football practice Tuesday and died at a hospital.
Searcy, his teammates and coaches, were at football camp in Lake City, Florida when Searcy collapsed.
Right now, Ben Hill County deputies are headed to North Florida to escort the team back home.
While it was intensely hot today, the cause of DJ's death has not yet been determined.
He was a rising junior at Fitzgerald High School.
The superintendent issued this message Tuesday afternoon--
Ben Hill County Schools and the Fitzgerald Hurricanes suffered the most devastating loss of the year today. The season has not begun but the team, coaches, and staff are reeling from the passing of D. J. Searcy, an 11th grade student at Fitzgerald High School. D. J., a defensive lineman with the Hurricanes, was attending football camp near Lake City, Florida this week.
After an unnamed player advised one of the coaches that there was a problem with D. J. who was located in his room in the assigned cabin, D. J. was transported to the hospital where he later passed away at 12:43 P.M. today, August 2, 2011.
The cause of death is unknown at this time, but the body will be transported to the Medical Examiner's Office in Jacksonville, Florida.
Numerous administrators, teachers and coaches describe D. J. as a "great kid". He was a good student with a positive attitude who was always smiling. He was an outstanding athlete, a favorite of students and staff. The school, friends, and family will miss the smiling face of this beloved young man.
Deepest sympathy is extended to the family, friends, and staff who were impacted by his young life. The team will be returning later this afternoon. Counselors from all Ben Hill County Schools will be available to students. Appreciation is extended to all the surrounding school districts who have offered their counseling services and condolences through calls and emails.
As Bobby Connor, Superintendent of rival Irwin County expressed, "We might be rivals across the field in competition, but in situations like this we are pulling together with support for your community."
God bless the family of D. J. Searcy during their time of loss. Our prayers are with you all.
Nancy P. Whidden Superintendent of Schools
Copyright 2011 WALB. All rights reserved.
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