BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog from FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
Go right ahead. Go right ahead and go about your life after hearing that "only one" Tuscaloosa fatality came from those tornadoes that ripped through the Fox6 viewing area on Monday. If you do shrug it off, you are showing disrespect to a life lost. That life was a vibrant, athletic 21-year-old who swam for the Alabama Crimson Tide. And that 21-year-old died a hero.
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." As storms grew stronger on Monday night, John Servati did the right thing, seeking shelter alongside his girlfriend in the basement of a house in Tuscaloosa. What Servati did not expect was a retaining wall to give way. What Servati did next was to save a life, as he held up the wall long enough for his girlfriend to escape. But within seconds, Servati could hold the wall no longer. Crushed beneath the crumbled wall, Servati was pronounced dead at Druid City Hospital shortly thereafter.
Word of Servati's death spread Tuesday morning, and after a team meeting called by head coach Dennis Pursley, a prayer service was held where tears were shed. Said Pursley hours later, "John was an extraordinary young man with great character and warmth who had a tremendously giving spirit." The world of Twitter soon erupted, with condolences sent by teammates, Alabama football players such as Arie Kouandjio, even Auburn swim coach Brett Hawke and Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs.
You see, John Servati was more than just "the lone death" Monday night in Tuscaloosa: He was the brother of Sarah and Catherine, the son of Janet and Albert, the former training partner of Phillip Deaton. He was a young man who carried a GPA of 3.55 in finance. He was a young man who was active in his church and in service projects such as Big Brothers And Big Sisters Of Tuscaloosa.
An Alabama teammate of Servati tweeted that John's mother wished only for two things: That her son would swim at the University of Alabama, and that someday he would die a hero. John Servati has done just that.
We are very busy people. We can't possibly stop, pray for and reflect about every young person whose life comes to a tragic end. But by reading this blog, you have taken time to reflect. And for that, I appreciate you.