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Metter community mourning students sudden death
Cause of death still unknown for Zach Jarrell, 16
Zach Jarrell Web
Zach Jarrell - photo by Special

The entire Candler County community remains in a state of shock following last month’s sudden death of a Metter High School student.

Zach Jarrell, a 16-year-old junior, collapsed at his home on Tuesday, July 28, and was pronounced dead at Candler County Hospital. More than two weeks after the tragedy, Candler coroner Sonny Morgan said the official cause of death has not yet been determined.

Jarrell’s death left a cloud of sorrow over the first day of school. The hallways of Metter High were a little quieter than normal when classes began, as students struggled to come to grips that their classmate and friend was not with them.

“Zach Jarrell was an outstanding student and possessed great character,” Metter Principal John Jordan said. “He meant so much to so many and he will be missed. Zach will always be considered part of the Tiger family. I, along with the MHS faculty and staff, extend my condolences, love and support to family and friends.”

The junior class held a balloon release for their classmate on the football field on July 29. 

 “We also appreciate the outpouring of support for our students from our community members,” Jordan said. “Many community members, counselors, ministers, parents and more came to MHS to help students who were struggling with the loss of their classmate. The students are doing an amazing job of supporting one another and supporting family during this tragic event.”

Family, friends and classmates gathered last week at the Metter K-8 school gym to pay tribute to Jarrell in a special prayer and remembrance ceremony, coordinated by members of Cedar Street Baptist Church. 

The program began with a welcome by Eddy Jones before the audience was led in silent prayer by Superintendent Dr. Bubba Longgrear.  Members of Zach’s youth group at Cedar Street Baptist Church, Thomas Aldrich and Liz Hoeger spoke, as did fellow junior class members Katy Carr, Grace Motes, Wesley Martin and Brennan Crooms.

Principal Jordan then made a formal helmet presentation before fellow Tiger football player Freddie Martinez spoke on behalf of the team.

Jody Nasworthy, music minister at Cedar Street, provided musical selections before the evening was closed out with Scripture and prayer by Elder Mike Newman, pastor of Metter Primitive Baptist Church.

Crowds then gathered at Cedar Street Baptist Church early Saturday for his funeral service, where Bo Fulginiti, Jarrell’s former youth minister, led the service. 

Fulginiti, who lives in North Carolina, was Zach’s Sunday school teacher when he was 10 and was his youth minister, as well.

“There were two things everyone knew about Zach,” Fulginiti said. “One, he was completely full of joy, and two, he was a natural born leader.”

That joy, Fulginiti said, was evident when looking at Zach’s Facebook and Twitter posts.

“That was proof of how he tapped into others’ lives and shared what was on his heart,” Fulginiti said.

And as a natural leader, “Zach prayed in the name of the Lord Jesus in front of anybody, any time and for any reason.”

On Zach’s class ring, which he recently ordered, was the scripture I Corinthians 10:31, which was the theme verse for his youth (“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God ...”) and the inscription “DTGG?” Fulginiti said that represented the question: “Does This Glorify God?

To friends and family coping with the tragedy, Fulginiti said:

“As Christians, we believe in the rule of 3: He did, He does and He will. What He did was bless us with a beautiful young man for 16 years, what He does, is call him home and send the spirit to comfort us, and what He will do is make all things new, which means we will see Zach again in glory.”

Zach is the son of Stewart and Cindi Crider Jarrell of Metter, grandson of Billy and Ann Crider of Metter and the nephew of Bill and Ruthie Crider of Statesboro.




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