DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Condolences from people across the country are pouring in for the family of former DeKalb County School Board Member Jim McMahan, who was killed in a jet-ski accident on Sunday in Alabama.
McMahan and his family were at Lake Wedowee, about 100 miles southwest of Atlanta. He and one of his teenage daughters were both on jet-skis when the two somehow collided. He was killed and his 17-year-old daughter suffered severe injuries, losing one of her legs.
Investigators are not yet releasing details about the cause of the collision or the exact cause of McMahan’s death.
McMahan served on the DeKalb School Board during one of the most troubled times in its history, helping to “right the ship” as one of his colleagues said on Monday.
When McMahan retired from the school board this past December, staffers played a tribute video to try to capture the joyous spirit of the man who helped save DeKalb County Schools.
"So if you don't know me, my name's Jim McMahan," he said on the video. "But if you do know me, it's Jimmy Mac! Let's do it this year!"
The tribute video showed McMahan as fellow board members hope people will remember him -- In public, during his five years on the board, always the school children's greatest cheerleader.
But behind the scenes, according to his friend, colleague and current DeKalb School Board member Stan Jester, McMahan was fiercely aggressive in pushing for improvements to the school system when it was on the verge of collapse.
"He took office six years ago when the school board was in a lot of trouble with the public and with SACS,” Jester said. "We almost lost accreditation, we were in a bad place, the Board of Education and the school district in general. And he helped righten the ship. He set it on the course of where we needed to go.”
McMahan was 53 years old, ran his own mortgage company and continued to be involved in DeKalb County schools and the community since retiring from the school board.
He leaves his wife, two daughters and a legacy that will help DeKalb school children and their parents for generations.
The family issued the following statement:
The McMahan family is overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support the Lakeside and DeKalb community has shown us since this horrible tragedy. We ask that you keep our daughter and family in your prayers and thank you for respecting our privacy in this very difficult time
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