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Reinholds teen found drowned in Grenada
Jared Lee Gehman, a 17-year-old high school senior, died in Grenada on May 8 while on a class trip with his Terre Hill Mennonite High School classmates.
Gehman was snorkling at Grand Anse Beach when he died, his parents said Monday.
The son of Nelson L. and Dorita Fry Gehman, Jared was scheduled to graduate on May 23. He was a member of Cornerstone Mennonite Fellowship Church.
“He was so excited about this class trip,” his father said Monday. “He was so excited to try snorkeling.
“We don’t know what went wrong. There was no horseplay involved. There was no strong current — it was calm water. It just happened.
“We’re resigned to the fact that it was his time to go.”
No one is sure what happened, Gehman said.
“He was out with some of his friends. There was a lifeguard nearby,” he said.
“You know how it is when you’re snorkeling — everyone has their eyes on the ocean floor.”
But when the classmates swam to shore, the lifeguard noticed one of them was missing. The students quickly found Jared and pulled him to the beach, where attempts were made to resuscitate him.
He was taken to a hospital in St. George’s, where he was pronounced dead Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
An autopsy was performed in Grenada, Gehman said; cause of death was listed as asphyxiation.
There is no way to tell if the teen suffered muscle cramps, gulped water and became disoriented or any number of other possibilities, the father said. There was no sign of trauma, he added.
“He was a good swimmer,” Dorita Gehman said.
She noted that Jared was not even in Grenada a full day before the incident.
“It sounded like they got there and went right out in the water,” she said. “It happened in less than an hour.”
High school principal Duane Weber said this has been a very difficult time for the school community.
“Jared was what I call a fine young man. He was a godly young man. He was a friend to everyone,” Weber said.
The class trip is an annual mission experience for Terre Hill seniors through the Olive Branch Mennonite Mission, he said. The trip allows time for fun and relaxation in the tropical environment, he said, but also involves a great deal of work.
Their efforts range from small construction projects to ministry in local nursing homes and hospitals, Weber said. The students also teach Sunday school on the island, which lies to the northwest of Venezuela.
“It’s a combination of physical labor and spiritual labor,” he said.
In fact, Weber said, Jared was helping to fix concrete steps Thursday morning before he and his classmates went snorkeling.
“It has been a very difficult time for the class,” he said. “They are processing their grief together. They are sticking together.”
The students are continuing their mission work and will return home on Wednesday, Weber said. Jared’s funeral is scheduled for Thursday at Weaverland Mennonite Church.
Mrs. Gehman said Jared was excited to start work after his return and graduation.
“He was going to be a camp counselor this summer,” she said. “He also works with a ministry of inner-city kids in Reading. … He really enjoyed that.”
He also had lined up a full-time job, starting May 28 at Martin Appliance in Myerstown, she said.
“He was very excited about that,” his father added. “He was going to start with a full-time job and find out what his real interests are.”
He was also considering pursuing a career in mission work, Gehman said. He would have turned 18 on June 5.
“He was a real people person. He just loved being with people,” Gehman said. “He wasn’t an outspoken person. He just had a warm personality. Anyone could get along with him.
“He had a great smile.”
Mrs. Gehman said Jared “lived his life to please the Lord. He really was a sincere Christian, and he wanted to make sure people knew that about him.
“For a teenager his age, he made a lot of good decisions to exemplify that life. There was no question, to us or other people. With his love for the Lord, we know he is in Heaven.”
Besides his parents, Jared is survived by an older sister, Laura, and two younger brothers, Wayne and Lewis, as well as grandparents Leroy and Susie Good Gehman of
Reinholds and A. Charlene Miller Fry of Watsontown.
“It hurts — there’s a hole in our home,” Gehman said. “It’s not that we aren’t crying, but I’m proud he was my son.
“He left us with an example of what a young man should be. We go to bed at night knowing that our son is with the Lord.”
Jared was a young man who enjoyed playing basketball with friends and softball with his church team.
He also had a serious side.
“He was definitely thinking serious thoughts,” Nelson Gehman said. “Oftentimes, I would find him reading his Bible after he went to bed.”
Shortly before he left for Grenada, Gehman said, his son wrote a passage from Romans 14:8 in his journal that Gehman found prophetic:
“For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.”