• Friends couldn't save student athlete after he jumped into river

    By: Tony Thomas

    Updated:

    GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - The former coach of a Gwinnett County high school student who drowned in the Chattahoochee river on Sunday told Channel 2’s Tony Thomas he cannot believe he is gone.

    Teenagers who knew Mountain View High School student Perez Tamfu, 17, were back jumping off Settles Bridge Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the soccer player drowned in the Chattahoochee.

    "I think that’s one thing that is really affecting everybody, just the loss of not just a teammate, but a friend as well," former coach Shane Pulliam said.

    Pulliam was Tamfu's soccer coach until just a month ago. He got word of the accident shortly after it happened.


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    “He made good grades, and he worked hard,” Pulliam said. “Always had a smile on his face. Always made everyone laugh. Just had a big heart.”

    Gwinnett firefighters say Tamfu and other Mountain View teammates were jumping off the bridge Sunday night when Tamfu got into trouble in the 50-degree water. Several people tried to save him.

    “We've learned since then several of his friends tried to perform a rescue (but) he went back underwater after  being combative as they described and did not resurface,” Capt. Tommy Rutledge said.

    Officials said Tamfu was not wearing a life jacket.

    Tamfu is the second Gwinnett high school soccer player to die in the past few days . Parkview's  Michael Jones died from medical issues while at club soccer practice.

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