Wednesday, April 7, 2010
St. Xavier High School senior Matt James, 17, died April 2 while vacationing in Panama City, Fla. The 6’6 football player, all-city and all-state, was slated to play football at the University of Notre Dame this fall and had also played varsity basketball for St. X.
About 400 St. X students gathered at the school late April 2 for a candlelight vigil, and another 200 came together April 3 to remember their classmate. James was on a spring break trip with six chaperones and 40 fellow students when he fell from his hotel room balcony. The report from the Panama City Beach Police Department indicates that the incident was “a tragic accident,” and that alcohol played a part, but no charges have been filed and toxicology reports will not be released for several weeks.
At press time, funeral arrangements for James, a parishioner at Our Lady of the Visitation Parish in Cincinnati, had not been announced, but a memorial is scheduled to be held at St. X on April 11, from 8-10 p.m. in the school’s gym parking lot.
James is survived by his parents, Peggy and Jerry, and two brothers.
The James family released a statement April 3: “We would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support during this tragic time, particularly the family at St. X. Matt was a very special young man, and it is gratifying to us that you all could see that as well.
“We are touched by this outpouring of love. While our entire family appreciates this interest and support, please allow us some private time to grieve and make preparations.”
Mark Motz, St. X director of communications and publications, said “Our thoughts and prayers are with the James family in this horrific time of loss. The entire James family, immediate and extended, has always been good to St. X. We hope we can be of comfort in their time of need. We are a faith community and this certainly is a test of that faith, but we will get through it together. We are all devastated by the news, but grateful for the gift of having had Matt as a Xavier man.”
Grief counselors were slated to be available for students when they return from spring break April 12.