LAUDERHILL (CBS4) – A Lauderhill family is mourning the loss of their loved one.

Joel Johnson, 21, drowned early Thursday morning in a lake on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University where he was a junior studying English.

“It’s really a big loss because he was going to help me through college, because I’m graduating next year,” said sister Anastacia Curry from their family home in Lauderhill Friday afternoon. “He was going to teach me how to look for the right college and to make sure everything went smoothly.”

Lee County sheriff investigators are looking into the deadly accident.

Police say early Thursday, Johnson and nine friends had gone for a swim in the lake known as a popular location for sunbathing and its trampoline anchored 30 feet into the water.

In the darkness, his friends saw Johnson start to struggle in the water.

On 9-1-1 emergency calls you can hear frantic friends describe the chaos.

“I heard people screaming and I ran,” one caller said on the 911 tape.

Another student told the dispatcher, “I can’t find him.  Everyone says he’s under the trampoline but no one can get to him.”

Emergency workers pulled Johnson from the ten foot deep water two hours later.

“The police came to our door at four in the morning.  My mother collapsed and started screaming my name,” said Johnson’s sister,

Investigators are waiting for a medical examiner’s autopsy to determine exactly how Johnson died.

His sister says he came home to Lauderhill a few days before his death to finish the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.  The family moved to South Florida from Jamaica a dozen years ago.

According to Curry, Johnson excelled at math and computer science and dreamed of becoming a writer.

On his Facebook page, friends wrote these entries:

“You always had a smile on your face.  You were so friendly.”

“It is so surreal to lose someone so close to your age.’

Johnson’s family is making arrangements for his burial.


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