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Classmates honor Harnett teen who drowned

Posted May 26, 2015

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— Students at Harnett Central High School returned Tuesday from their Memorial Day break and were confronted with the loss of a classmate.

Senior Justice Clark, 18, drowned Monday evening while swimming with friends in a pond near Lillington.

Grief counselors were at Harnett Central and planned to remain as needed through the end of the week, said Patricia Harmon-Lewis, a spokeswoman for Harnett County Schools.

"People feel helpless, I think, because there's nothing they can do to make it better for this family," she said.

ozens of students and some teachers wore red to school Tuesday in honor of Clark.

Clark was a member of the Harnett Central football team, and some teammates organized a candlelight vigil Tuesday night at Kipling Cross, on U.S. Highway 401, to show support for his family.

"He was there when we needed him," said teammate Justin Bush. "He always had our back when we were down. We all could look to Justice to bring us back. I'm going to miss him."

Friends said they tried to help Clark when he went underwater in the former gravel pit off Flyway Drive. Josh Ferraro, 16, said he had to let go when Clark started pulling him under as well.

"It was horrible. I hate it," Ferraro said. "I tried my best to save him."

Nearby resident George Hollar said he jumped in the water to see if he could help.

"I went under a couple of times trying to see if I could feel him," Hollar said. "They had it so stirred up with mud, you couldn’t see anything."

The pond is a popular swimming and fishing hole for locals, but nearby resident Johnny Wright said it's also dangerous, recalling three other drownings there in recent years.

"Most of these people who drown don’t even live out here," Wright said. "It’s tragic, man, to see somebody drown."

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, 11 a.m., at Cape Fear Conference A Headquarters, 25 Beaver Road, Erwin. A memorial service will be held Monday, June 1, 10 a.m., at Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery, 400 Murchison Road, Spring Lake.


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