By Amy Tennery
(Reuters) – A freshman pitcher with Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University baseball team died on Thursday in a drowning accident, the Coffee County sheriff’s department said.
Nineteen-year-old Donny Everett, who was recruited out of high school, died the day before his team was to begin the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship tournament.
The sheriff’s office said in a statement that Everett was on a fishing trip with two teammates and two others at Normandy Lake, about 70 miles from the campus, when he tried to swim across the lake and disappeared.
Divers found his body under water about 15 feet from shore, according to the statement.
Vanderbilt Director of Athletics David Williams issued a statement on the team’s Twitter account.
“We learned last night of the tragic death of Donny Everett, an outstanding young man who exemplified the best of our university,” it said. “As you can imagine, the team, the athletic department and the university are trying to come to terms with this tragedy. His parents and loved ones are on our minds and in our prayers as we share in their grief.”
On Everett’s official athlete page, Vanderbilt Head Baseball Coach Tim Corbin wrote, “His future is bright and it is only a matter of time before he impacts our staff.”
Everett’s death prompted an outpouring of grief on social media.
“Rest in peace Donny Everett. Gone way [too] soon and had way [too] much ahead,” tweeted Bryce Denton (@brycedenton25), an infielder for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals minor league team. “I will miss you my friend … Can’t even believe this happened.”
Carson Fulmer, a pitcher with the Birmingham Barons, one of the Chicago White Sox minor league teams, tweeted, “Deeply saddened and in shock by the news … My prayers and thoughts go out to the Everett family … He was a great kid w/amazing talent.” Fulmer attended Vanderbilt.
(Reporting By Amy Tennery)