Community mourns tragic drowning death of teen - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Community mourns tragic drowning death of teen

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB)- Students in the Collegedale community are trying to find a way to cope with the loss of a fellow student.

A Collegedale Academy sophomore drowned Saturday afternoon while swimming at Harrison Bay State Park.

Several classmates say it is hard to process their friend is gone.

A group of students met at Collegedale Academy Sunday afternoon to pray over the loss of a fellow student.

Sixteen-year-old Chakamboka Chama drowned while swimming at Harrison Bay State park Saturday afternoon. He was swimming with a group of friends and never made it back to shore.

"He swam approximately one hundred yards from the bank. We don't know at this time what any causes were other than the witness statements that he began to struggle," says State Park Ranger David England.

Emergency crews immediately took to the waters of Harrison Bay, locating his body after more than four hours of searching.

Now the Collegedale community and his school family is mourning.

Known as 'Chama' to his friends, Collegedale Academy has put up a memorial page on its website to honor his life.

Principal Murray Cooper writes, "Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to all who feel this loss, especially his family, classmates, and teachers."

Nearly 600 friends have joined a Facebook page, where classmates can leave messages to the young teen.

The page description says, "Chama is a hero…He was a friend that never stopped smiling, never stopped loving."

One person writes, "I miss your vibrant lively face!! Your eyes were amazing!! So full of life, love and kindness."

Another friend says, "Chama you taught me a whole new meaning of what it is to be a best friend to someone."

Pictures also show his love for athletics, playing on the academy's basketball team. Other pictures show his outgoing personality.

Sunday, outside the school, one parent told us with tear-filled eyes, he was a "bright spot in the community."

And as the community prays for peace and understanding, another friend says, "You were such an amazing loved person. I'll see you in heaven."

Collegedale Academy plans on having a chapel service at 8 o'clock Monday morning where students and staff can pay their respects for Chama.

Counselors will also be on hand.

We checked with a Tennessee State Parks spokesperson in Nashville, who says the full report on what happened Saturday is not yet complete.

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