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Celebration turns into tragedy

What was supposed to be a celebratory swim Tuesday night at the creek turned into Carly Myers’ worse nightmare when her friend, 31-year-old Jonathan Brumfield of South Boston, went under water and never resurfaced.  

“I will never get over this. He was my best friend ever in this world, and I just don’t know what happened after he got in the water to never come back up,” Myers said.

Brumfield had just found out he would be able to get financial aid and had registered for classes at Danville Community College, according to his best friend. 

They were celebrating his latest success Tuesday evening with a swim at Sandy Creek, also known as Blue Rock for the large blue rock that sits there.

“He was so excited. Tuesday he went to DCC and signed up for classes, and he was the happiest I had seen him in a long time. He received financial aid, and he got accepted into the electrical engineering program at DCC. Just before we went to the creek Tuesday, he went to DCC and got his schedule,” Myers said

When they arrived at the creek, Myers and Brumfield, along with Stacy Powell, his wife and their three children got into the water and started to walk toward the rock.

“The water is very shallow, less than a foot until you get closer to the rock. Then it gets deeper the closer you get to the rock. At the rock it is probably 7 or 8 feet. I am just walking down with everyone, not paying close attention to Jonathan, but he is a little ahead of me, and I saw through the corner of my eye him diving in,” Myers recalled.

 After 30 seconds, Myers said she asked Powell where Brumfield was.

“He starts yelling, saying ‘Jonathan if you are playing around you need to stop. This isn’t funny.’ So about a minute or two after calling and looking in the water the best we can — it is clear water, but the sand makes it look brown you know — we do not see him. We start to jump in and swim around and look ourselves,” Myers said.

 Five minutes later after finding no signs of Brumfield anywhere, Myers said she ran to her truck to call 911.

“I tell them everything up until this point, and they said they were sending someone. So, at that point I ran back under the bridge and back to the water to look more,” Myers said. 

According to Halifax County Sheriff Fred S. Clark, the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, Halifax County Emergency Services and Oak Level Fire and EMS units were dispatched at 7:30 p.m. to the 1000 block of Johnson Mill Road in the Vernon Hill community for a call about a possible drowning.

Ten minutes had passed, and still there was no sign of Brumfield until Powell went down a little ways from where they all had been standing.

“Stacy feels him with his feet, and yells I got him. He gets him up to the bank, and they begin to administer CPR. They turn him over a few times, and water does come out. I begin to pray and just pray so hard. They had to stop CPR to get him to the squad. I was hoping they would dry him off and start an AED on him to shock him with that,” Myers said.

Brumfield was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead at 9 p.m. 

His body was sent to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Richmond for an autopsy. 

An investigation is continuing, the sheriff said.

“He was a great swimmer, he was not intoxicated, he was alert and fine when he went in, so what happened after that that caused him not to come back up is beyond me,” Myers said. 

“The only logical explanation that I can think of would be he pushed off with his feet too hard and went head into the rock underwater and was knocked unconscious or had a heart attack, aneurism or stroke because there was no sign of a struggle, or we would have went to that. I just don’t get it.”

According to Myers, Brumfield loved being outdoors and cooking out. He loved NASCAR and was a Redskin’s fan through and through. 

He worked in construction with his brother, and they did side jobs as much as they could keep work, Myers said. But times were hard.  

She said he recently made the decision to go back to college and pursue what he really always wanted to do, become an electrician.

 “He could wire a house from the ground up, brand new start to finish, or he could fix just about anything electrical. He just needed a degree to back him up to make money like he wanted,” Myers said.

Funeral arrangements have not been made yet because Brumfield’s body was sent for autopsy, Myers said Thursday.

 “He was like my brother, he was my best friend, and he will never be forgotten. He was young and had so much to look forward too. He had so much ambition to do better and change his life in a positive light, and that is why he was so happy Tuesday, to be beginning that chapter.”