Soon after Vanderbilt baseball player Donny Everett drowned, two teammates who were with him drove through a steady rain to the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department.
Ryan Johnson and Chandler Day, still shocked by what they had witnessed, sat mostly silent in a gray F-150 Ford pickup, on their way to give statements to deputies about their 19-year-old friend’s final moments.
Everett's death had been an accident. The teammates had gone to nearby Normandy Lake that Thursday afternoon with two other friends to fish on the eve of Vanderbilt’s NCAA Tournament game. Everett tried to swim across the lake, but only made it halfway and eventually submerged. His body was found nearly two hours later.
During that seemingly endless drive, a mixture of grief and shock gripped Johnson and Day as they tried to piece together the preceding hours.
And then the rain stopped, and both young men fixated on the same scene.
“It was on the way to the police station, and that rainbow just came right out,” Johnson said. “Chandler and I looked at it and looked at each other. We had chills. We both said the same thing — ‘That’s Donny.’”
It was a brief moment of peace for the pair of Vanderbilt pitchers on June 2, 2016.
Everett’s death drew national headlines and pierced the heart of anyone associated with Vanderbilt baseball.
Day is still pitching for Vanderbilt, which returns to the NCAA Tournament Friday with a game against St. John’s in the Clemson Regional.
Johnson, however, left the team in October, admittedly grappling with “depression and anxiety” since that day at Normandy Lake. One year later, he sat in his parents’ home in Cedar Park, Texas, 850 miles from Vanderbilt, and tried his best to talk with a reporter.
“This is going to be hard for me to do,” said Johnson, choking on his words and then holding a long pause. “But I’ll get through this. I’ll just talk through it."