Jabril Nowlin (Twitter photo)
SUGAR HILL — Jabril Nowlin loved sneakers so much his Twitter handle reflected it, and classmates around Lanier High called him a “sneaker head.”
The school held a moment of silence at the end of the school day on Wednesday for Nowlin, a member of the senior class who passed away on Tuesday. He died at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, said Ted Bailey, chief forensic investigator for the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Lanier students who said they were acquaintances of Nowlin said he slipped into a coma and was on life support following a swimming pool accident at a Barrington Estates subdivision on Sunday.
“He was really into shoes,” said Lanier junior Taylor Barber. “He was a sneaker head, that’s what we called him.”
Gwinnett Fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge said firefighters responded at 2:31 p.m. on Sunday to a report of a drowning incident. The 17-year-old male, later identified as Nowlin, was pulled from the water as a bystander performed CPR.
After he was found unconscious and unresponsive, crews performed life support measures, and then transported Nowlin to Northside Forsyth Hospital.
“According to firefighters, witnesses reported that the male was swimming with a group when he was discovered at the bottom of the pool,” Rutledge said. “The exact down time is unknown, but may have been several minutes. Two bystanders helped to pull him from the water and began CPR as 911 was being called.”
Lanier Principal Kerensa Wing wrote a letter on Wednesday to the Lanier community and said a crisis team of counselors, social workers, teachers and administrators were on hand to support the students.
“We know that this may be the first time some of our students may have had to cope with the loss of a classmate or friend,” Wing wrote. “Dealing with death is difficult for all people, and it can be very challenging for teenagers.”
Barber said Nowlin loved to collect the newest shoes, especially basketball shoes, and had models from Kobe Bryant, to Kevin Durant, to Nike Air Maxes.
“He was a pretty good friend,” Barber said. “I was depressed last night when I first heard about it. It was tough.”
On Nowlin’s Twitter bio under the handle @sneaker_head_21, he wrote, “#LEBRONNATION #NIKE #MCMXCVI #TrueSneakerHead #LaceGang #Laceup.”
Another acquaintance, Lanier junior Alex Joyner, called Nowlin a nice guy, funny and a cool dude.
“It was very sudden,” Joyner said.
Added Barber, “He had a good group of friends, he was solid.”
To close her letter, Wing asked parents to contact the school if a child needs to talk with a counselor or other professional.
“We are a very caring school community, and the loss of such a young life is difficult to comprehend,” Wing wrote. “I know your thoughts and prayers will be with the family and our students as we cope with this loss.”