Students, staff on Jaquan: ‘We’re gonna miss him’

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com More than 200 students and staff members gathered around the flagpole Monday morning at Richmond Senior High School to remember Jaquan Bailey.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
More than 200 students and staff members gathered around the flagpole Monday morning at Richmond Senior High School to remember Jaquan Bailey.

Students, staff mourn loss of sophomore Jaquan Bailey

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Online campaign to raise funds for funeral expenses

ROCKINGHAM — It was not at all a typical Monday morning for the more than 200 students and staff members as they gathered to honor and remember one of their own, Jaquan Bailey, at the flagpole in front of Richmond Senior High School.

Bailey drowned Saturday at Blewett Falls after deciding to expand his group’s fishing trip to swimming. The incident occurred exactly one week after his 17th birthday. Witnesses indicate he cramped up in the water and started to panic. A friend dove in to help him, but Jaquan’s frantic motion caused the friend to become concerned for his own safety and he returned to shore. Jaquan couldn’t recover.

On Monday, Kurtis Oney, a fellow sophomore, said Jaquan was one of his best friends. An artist, Kurtis was moved to complete a pencil sketch in memory of his friend. The sketch included folded hands in prayer and Jaquan’s football jersey, No. 33.

Kurtis described Jaquan as a teen who was “always smiling.”

“If I was there, I would have tried to save him,” Kurtis said. “He was loved by everybody. It’s hard … that he died.”

Jaquan Bailey

Jaquan Bailey

Bill Ramsey, business teacher at Richmond Senior, said he’d coached Jaquan in football while he was a student at Rockingham Middle School. Ramsey said Jaquan “always worked hard” while playing both offensive and defensive positions.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

“It broke my heart,” Ramsey said of when he learned of Jaquan’s passing Saturday afternoon. “Anytime you see a young person … they haven’t had a chance at life. We’re gonna miss him.”

Ramsey said he last saw Jaquan on Friday. Jaquan approached Ramsey and gave him a “a bear hug.”

“He said, ‘Coach, how you doin?'”

Jaquan said the two needed to talk. Ramsey responded, “We’ll do that next week.”

Ramsey said Monday that conversation will have to wait.

“I’ll get to talk to him, sooner or later,” Ramsey said.

Alex Perakis, pastor at McDonald Baptist Church, told students he wasn’t always a man of God.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Kurtis Oney said Jaquan was one of his best friends. Kurtis was moved to complete this pencil sketch to remember his friend.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Kurtis Oney said Jaquan was one of his best friends. Kurtis was moved to complete this pencil sketch to remember his friend.

“When I was your age, I didn’t know God,” Perakis said. “I didn’t see a real need for God.”

Jaquan, he said, did. The first time Perakis saw Jaquan was at church.

Perakis’ message to students: “Believe in God.”

Principal Keith McKenzie said the school had four regular counselors on hand plus one each from Rockingham and Hamlet middle schools to assist students with whatever they might need. For the most part, however, McKenzie said that after the before-school ceremony and a moment of silence after first bell, the day would try to go on as normal as possible.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

“He was a likable young man,” McKenzie said, adding the school would pay tribute to him during graduation exercises on June 13. “Sometimes you don’t have an answer … but you know there’s a purpose.”

Many people of all ages on Monday were wondering what that purpose might be.

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