FOLKSTON, Ga. – A vigil was held Monday night to remember a Charlton County High School football player who deputies say drowned last week.
Raymond Wade, 17, was a junior who played wide receiver on the varsity team.
The school posted Friday about his death.
“It has been a difficult day at CCHS today. We lost a wonderful young man with a great spirit and attitude yesterday. Raymond Wade was loved by all teachers and students at CCHS. He was known for getting along with others and finding the silver lining in any situation. Raymond has been a member of our football program since 6th grade at BMS. He will be greatly missed by all of our students and staff,” the post said.
The school also posted photos of Wade.
Raymond Wade is missed at CCHS. Please join us Monday night at 6:30PM at Champ Bailey Field. That is May 9, 2022.Posted by Charlton County High School on Friday, May 6, 2022
There was a prayer vigil at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Champ Bailey Field in honor of Wade.
Latoya McDowell, Wade’s cousin, said there’s now a massive void in many people’s lives.
“He didn’t deserve to go like that,” McDowell said. “We all lost a piece of us.”
Friends and family described the teen as a positive person who always kept you laughing.
“He loved people and people loved him,” Wade added. “If you were around him, you’d have a laugh. He was funny, So it’s hard losing a character like that.”
His teammates joined together—holding Wade’s jersey, No. 17.
Dozens filled the stands to pay their respects.
Noah Doggett played on the varsity football team with Wade.
“He was a good kid and he would do anything to help anybody. If he had a chance to, he would help anybody,” Doggett said. “It’s just going to be different without him here now.”
Russ Murray, the school’s head football coach, said in a previous interview that Wade had been in the program since sixth grade.
“On my part, I look at my boys as my boys -- and I lost one yesterday,” Murray told News4JAX on Friday. “And that’s extremely tough to deal with.”
It’s a sentiment that is felt across the close-knit community.
“Just having to get it through my mind that it’s real. It’s not a dream,” Doggett said. “It actually happened, and he’s gone.”
Just after 5 p.m. Thursday, the Charlton County Sheriff’s Office got a call about a possible drowning near the Trader’s Hill Boat Ramp. Witnesses told authorities that Wade was swimming in the St. Mary’s River when he got tired and started calling for help. Investigators said his friends tried to save him, but the 17-year-old went under the water and did not resurface. After a multi-agency search including dive teams, and crews searching the river using sonar detection, the teen’s body was recovered less than six hours later.