University of Alabama swimmer killed in severe weather - KCTV5

University of Alabama swimmer killed in severe weather

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John Servati (Photo: UA Athletics) John Servati (Photo: UA Athletics)
John Servati swimming for the UA Swimming Team (Photo: UA Athletics) John Servati swimming for the UA Swimming Team (Photo: UA Athletics)
First responders at the home where a retaining wall fell on John Servati, killing him. Source: WBRC video First responders at the home where a retaining wall fell on John Servati, killing him. Source: WBRC video
John Servati and his girlfriend sought shelter from the storms at this home on 22 Ave. in Tuscaloosa on Monday night. Source: WBRC video John Servati and his girlfriend sought shelter from the storms at this home on 22 Ave. in Tuscaloosa on Monday night. Source: WBRC video
TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) -

The University of Alabama has confirmed the death of one of their athletes in the severe weather that struck on Monday night/Tuesday morning.

University officials say 21-year-old John Servati was a junior from Tupelo, Mississippi and on the Crimson Tide swim team. He and his girlfriend sought shelter in a basement of a home in the 1400 block of 22nd Avenue on Monday night.

The heavy rains and flash floods weakened the foundation, causing the retaining wall to fall on him. First resonders quickly got to the scene and transported Servati to DCH, where he was pronounced deceased. He was the only fatality from the storms in Tuscaloosa County.

According to RollTide.com, Servati competed in the SEC Championships as a freshman and a sophomore. He also was named to the Dean's List and the SEC Academic Honor Roll. As a high school student, Servati set state records in Mississippi for the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke.

The University of Alabama's head swimming coach, Dennis Pursley, released a statement on Servati via the UA swim team's official Twitter account:

"During this incredibly difficult time, our thoughts & prayers go out to the Servati family & to all who knew John. John Servati was an extraordinary young man of great character and warmth who had a tremendously giving spirit. John will forever be in our hearts and a part of the Crimson Tide legacy."

Auburn's head swimming coach, Brett Hawke, also took to Twitter to offer condolences for the athlete's loved ones:

"Our heartfelt prayers for peace and comfort for the family and friends of John Servati and the University of Alabama swim team."

UA's Director of Athletics, Bill Battle and the swim team captain, Phillip Deaton, made statements in an official release by UA Athletics.

"We are all saddened to learn of the untimely death of John Servati," UA Director of Athletics Bill Battle said. "He was a model student-athlete who excelled in his sport of swimming, his pursuit of excellence in academics, and his value as a son, brother, friend and teammate to all who knew him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to John's family and friends as we grieve his passing."

"John definitely had a genuine heart," Alabama team captain Phillip Deaton said. "He was a carefree guy who always had this huge smile on his face. He was my training partner for three years and I can tell you that while he liked to goof around and have fun, when he stepped up on the block he was intensely focused - he was a competitor and an amazing teammate. As a team, we are doing the best we can right now."

His death impacts not just the University of Alabama, but also Big Brothers, Big Sisters of West Alabama.

John had volunteered there a year when he befriended a 13-year-old boy who lost his father.

"We're always looking for male volunteers. They are few and far between. John was just happy to be one of those special people who stepped up to the plate to become a volunteer," Zelda Lavender with Big Brothers, Big Sisters said.

Servati's family arrived in Tuscaloosa from Tupelo this morning. His funeral arrangements have not been finalized. Friends and family will gather for a vigil Thursday at 8 p.m. at Calvary Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa.

Copyright 2014 WBRC. All rights reserved.

  • University of Alabama swimmer killed in severe weatherMore>>

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    Karle's Korner: Bama swimmer Servati dies a hero

    April 29, 2014 08:15 PM 2014-05-02 17:18:34 GMT
    John Servati was a record-setting swimmer at a Tupelo, Mississippi high school. One of his dreams was to swim at Alabama. And boy, did he swim, with an intensity that Alabama team captain Phillip Deaton called "amazing."More >
    John Servati was a record-setting swimmer at a Tupelo, Mississippi high school. One of his dreams was to swim at Alabama. And boy, did he swim, with an intensity that Alabama team captain Phillip Deaton called "amazing."More >
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