GROVE OAK, Ala. -- A former Harrison High School football player has died after falling from a waterfall at High Falls Park.
Mason Tompkins, 18, was visiting the park on Saturday, and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office told local media that Tompkins had jumped from a high rock and never resurfaced. Witnesses told media that Tompkins hit his head. 11Alive has confirmed those reports.
The DeKalb County coroner's office said Tompkins had fallen at the waterfall, but did not have any additional details at this time since it is still under investigation. They did say it would officially be ruled an accident.
Tompkins was an offensive lineman at Harrison and had just graduated from the school with a 3.9 GPA. Harrison's principal, Ashlynn Campbell, Tweeted a statement on Saturday night.
"Hoya Nation is sending heartfelt prayers to the family of Mason Tompkins," Campbell Tweeted.
His former high school football coach, Matt Dickman, called Tompkins a role model at the school.
"Always had a great smile on his face. Really the type of person that every teacher and coach wants to have in their classroom or team," he said.
Dickman and the team met on Sunday afternoon to grieve together and told stories of their old teammate. The team pastor was present, and Dickman said it helped former and current team members to come to terms with the accident and support Tompkin's family.
The team will honor Tompkins this season, but they do not yet know how. Dickman will meet with Campbell and the booster club president to decide.
Students visited the football field at Harrison Saturday and Sunday, and they placed roses on the field to spell out Tompkin's number 75.
Michael Toache wore one of Tompkin's lacrosse jerseys Sunday when he went to visit the memorial at the football field. Toache says he first met Tompkins in the sixth grade.
He says Tompkins was excited about playing at Berry College in the fall.
“He had visited there and told us about his visit, it seemed like he was having fun,” Toache said.
The football standout will be remembered for his big heart and personality. Tompkins was one of the first people Preston Plumley met when he moved to town. As the new kid at in school he was worried about making friends. Tompkins, Plumley said, made that easy.
“I sat down at the lunch table after moving here my first year and he just immediately introduced himself and brought me in,” Plumley said.
Tompkins played with top quarterback Justin Fields, who is entering his senior season. Fields Tweeted out condolences on Saturday night, as well.
Today we lost not only a great friend but a brother. He had my back on and off of the field. Have a blast in heaven, we love you. pic.twitter.com/OY1UnjQ0gi— Justin Fields (@justnfields) July 9, 2017
Tompkins, who lived in Acworth, Georgia, was slated to start playing high school football this fall at Berry College in Rome, Georgia.
"We are very saddened to hear of this loss," a spokesperson from Berry Athletics told 11Alive. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Mason's family at this time."
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