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Published On: Fri, May 2nd, 2014

Alabama swimmer John Servati honored for sacrificing his life during tornado

University of Alabama swimmer John Servati was killed by a tornado Monday night after saving the life of his girlfriend, reports say. Thursday’s report covering the services describe him as an “All-American kid” who didn’t run from his faith and, in the end, died a hero.

John Servati Alabama swimmer dies hero tornado“John Servati died a hero,” fellow swimmer Anna Rae Gwarjanski Tweeted Tuesday. “Held up a concrete wall long enough for his girlfriend to get out from under it before it collapsed again on him.”

Officials would only say Servati, 21, of Tupelo, Miss., died after a retaining wall collapsed in his home in Tuscaloosa.

“I understand that he was in a house off-campus and was hit by a retaining wall,” school spokesman Shane Dorrill told ESPN. “I don’t know how it happened. I do know he was with his girlfriend and she is uninjured.”

Servati’s coach Dennis Pursley released a statement through the university.

“John Servati was an extraordinary young man of great character and warmth who had a tremendously giving spirit,” Pursley said. “He will forever be in our hearts and a part of the Crimson Tide legacy.”

Lucas Smith, his swimming coach at Tupelo High School, told Yahoo Sports that “he was just one of those golden children.”

Smith had coached Servati since he was 9 years old.

“He lived for the team,” Smith told Yahoo Sports. “He loved the team. That’s what drove him. He loved the team.”

“The thing I’m most proud of with him is when he went to college, he didn’t run from his faith, he grew in his faith,” said Chad Thompson, youth pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Tupelo, who mentored Servati in church for a number of years.

“The bible studies he was involved in, who was disciplining him. It wasn’t that he would tell me those things so I’d think he was OK. He was genuine in his faith.”

Thompson reflected on their last conversation during Christmas break.

“He wanted to do what’s right, not in other’s eyes, but in the Lord’s eyes,” Thompson said. “I think we can use the testimony of his life and that God is using that nationwide, but it’s still tough to deal with. You would have loved to see what his life would have looked like 5 or 10 years from now….I’ll never forget his handshake. His hands dwarfed mine. He had big ole hands that were made for swimming.”

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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