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Funeral set for Mill Creek grad, drowning victim

DACULA -- Funeral services for a Mill Creek High School alum and college cross country runner who drowned in a Florida river last week have been scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

Dacula resident Tajay Hoppiness, 18, drowned Aug. 9 in a murky Florida river at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. His body was found by divers about 24 hours later.

The funeral will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula. Interment will follow in Hamilton Mill Memorial Gardens.

A native of Jamaica, Hoppiness had lived in the Atlanta area for 12 years and was a 2012 Mill Creek graduate. He earned a cross-country scholarship to Valdosta State University, according to his obituary.

A Suwannee County Sheriff's Department official said Hoppiness had been training with several college teammates all day before they decided to go swimming in the river. Hoppiness came in after his friends and was caught in a strong current, officials said.

There had been a drowning in the same location a few weeks prior.

Hoppiness's soccer and cross country coaches at Mill Creek described him in interviews as an outgoing, kindhearted student and terrific athlete.

Hoppiness's family will receive friends from 5 to 8 p.m. at Hamilton Mill Memorial Chapel. A memorial page for Hoppiness has been set up at hamiltonmillchapel.com