JauMarcus McFarland, an 18-year-old student in Atlanta died on Wednesday in a tragic elevator crash. The teenager, who was attending a school especially designed for students with aspirations of playing college football, died in the building which partially served as student housing, People reported.
The deadly incident took place after McFarland and several other teammates entered the building’s elevator while heading to practice. When the elevator collapsed, McFarland was pinned between the second and third floors.
Teammates rushed to help the Champion Prep Academy student, who remained trapped for nearly an hour. After being rescued by fire crews, the athlete was taken to Atlanta Medical Center, where he died from his injuries.
Michael Carson, president and founder of Georgia Prep Sports Academy, said McFarland was an outstanding kid and a superb athlete.
“He had so much potential. He was 6’6″, 300 lbs.; a left tackle with great footwork,” Carson told People. “He was one of the leaders on his team. Very respectful, very humble and very focused. Guys really respected him and his work ethic. We’re all just in shock.”
The star athlete had “dreams of going to a major college and having the opportunity to play in the NFL one day.”
“He knew exactly what he wanted in life,” Carson said. “He was one of those kids who had a 3.5 average out of high school but just didn’t have the test scores. He was using our program to prep for the ACT [American College Test] in hopes of being recruited this month to be on their college campuses in January. His dream was within reach, it really was just tragically taken away from him.”
McFarland’s teammates, as well as other residents and business owners who all share the building, have been complaining about the elevator.
“We knew something like this was going to happen one day”, Bryson Grove told FOX 5. “Didn’t know it was going to take one of our teammate’s lives.”
Lexus Law, who owns a business in the building, said the elevator that failed was in constant use because the only other elevator in the building broke down about three months ago.
“It’s been constant wear and tear on the elevator,” Law said.
Inspectors with the State Insurance Commissioner’s Office have launched an investigation to determine why the elevator failed.
“We can confirm that the operating permit for the elevators at this location expired in August of 2020,” the agency stated. “Inspections are required by state law to be done on an annual basis and it is the building owner’s responsibility to request this yearly inspection from our office. We do not have a record of any such request from this building.”
Nathan Phillips, Property Manager at 444 Highland Avenue, said the elevator passed an inspection in August 2019 and wasn’t due for another until 2024.
Phillips adds that 16 athletes were in the elevator when the incident unfolded.
“First, we want to offer our sincere condolences to the family of this young man, his teammates, and his friends,” he stated. “What we can say is the weight capacity of the elevator was 3000 lbs. — but the 16 young athletes who were inside the elevator when this occurred pushed that limit to nearly 4000 lbs. Unfortunately, this appears to be what started the domino effect of events leading to the unfortunate death of this young man.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up to raise funds for funeral costs.
“JauMarcus was a wonderful teammate who touched the lives of those around him,” the GoFundMe page stated. “We are at a loss and his family in Missouri is utterly devastated.”