Alabama swimmer John Servati killed by tornado


Members of the Tuscaloosa Police Department stand outside of the home where Alabama student John Servati died after taking refuge from a storm on Monday. Servati, who was from Tupelo, Miss., was a member of the Alabama swim team. (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Robert Sutton)

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.

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.

Kelyn Soong is a news aide and blogger and covers high school tennis for The Washington Post sports section.
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