University of Alabama officials confirmed the death of John Servanti, a member of the school’s swimming and diving team, Tuesday morning.
Servati, 21, was killed Monday night during the violent storms and tornadoes that swept through the Tuscaloosa area.
He died at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa after being injured in the basement of a house near campus, according to the team’s statement.
“I understand that he was in a house off-campus and was hit by a retaining wall,” school spokesman Shane Dorrill said (via ESPN). “I don’t know how it happened. I do know he was with his girlfriend and she is uninjured.”
In a AL.com report, Megan Brantley, a spokesperson for the city of Tuscaloosa, said a then-unidentified 21-year-old man was killed when attempting to hold up a wall when it collapsed on him.
Alabama swimmer Anna Rae Gwarjanski tweeted that Servati was a “hero,” because his actions allowed his girlfriend to escape injured.
John Servati died a hero. Held up a concrete wall long enough for his girlfriend to get out from under it before it collapsed again on him.— Anna Rae Gwarjanski (@annaraeoflight) April 29, 2014
John’s mom told our team this morning he always wanted to be an Alabama swimmer, and he always wanted to be a hero. He accomplished both.— Anna Rae Gwarjanski (@annaraeoflight) April 29, 2014
Servati, a Tupelo, Miss., native competed in backstroke and freestyle events for Alabama and was a Dean’s List student.
“John Servati was an extraordinary young man of great character and warmth who had a tremendously giving spirit,” Alabama coach Dennis Pursley said in a statement. “During this incredibly difficult time, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to all who had the good fortune to know him. He will forever be in our hearts and a part of the Crimson Tide legacy.”
Many people and swim teams across the country expressed their condolences on Twitter.
All our thoughts and prayers are with the Servati family and the Tupelo community. We all have a place in our hearts where John will live on— UA Swim & Dive (@CrimsonTideSwim) April 29, 2014
Our condolences go out to the family of Alabama swimmer John Servati, who died last night when a tornado struck: http://t.co/BOyQzQT8dX— NCAA (@NCAA) April 29, 2014
”Hero” is thrown around loosely, but John Servati definitely died a hero. His death & the devastation to Tupelo puts a lot into perspective.— Drew White (@kickerfella) April 29, 2014