He had been an outstanding member of the track team I had coached over the summer, and now I was reading his name in the paper. George Smith, age 19, was dead.
He and a couple of friends were spending the day on the Truckee River, rafting and swimming. Authorities say their inflatable floatation device, perhaps an inner tube had struck a sharp submerged rock and developed a fast leak.
While two of the young men were able to swim to safety, George wasn’t able to get to the bank. His friends, though cold and frightened, searched the banks of the river for their buddy, they couldn’t find him.
George’s body was found down river a couple of days later somewhere near the town of Lockwood. An autopsy showed he had drown and it was concluded that this happened because he had been drinking alcohol earlier in the day.
Every once in a while I think about George, the shining young trackster, and I feel a terrible stab of grief over what he could have been and what he’ll never be. Now all I have to remember him by is a newspaper’s obituary.