John Servati: 21-Year-Old Alabama Swimmer Dies While Saving Girlfriend In Storm

John Servati
John Servati

University of Alabama officials confirmed Tuesday that a member of the school’s men’s swimming and diving team was killed Monday night when violent storms and a tornado struck the Tuscaloosa area.

John Servati, 21, a junior swimmer and dean’s list student at Alabama, was killed, according to school officials.

“John Servati was an extraordinary young man of great character and warmth who had a tremendously giving spirit,” UA coach Dennis Pursley said in a statement. “During this incredibly difficult time, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to all who had the good fortune to know him. He will forever be in our hearts and a part of the Crimson Tide legacy.”

School spokesman Shane Dorrill said Servati died at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa after being injured at a house near campus. Servati had been in the basement of the home in the 1400 block of 22nd Avenue in Tuscaloosa, according to Dorrill. His girlfriend escaped without injuries.

“I understand that he was in a house off-campus and was hit by a retaining wall,” Dorrill said. “I don’t know how it happened. I do know he was with his girlfriend and she is uninjured.”

A member of the women’s swim team remembered Servati on Twitter.

John Servati died a hero. Held up a concrete wall long enough for his girlfriend to get out from under it before it collapsed again on him.
– Anna Rae Gwarjanski (@annaraeoflight) April 29, 2014

John’s mom told our team this morning he always wanted to be an Alabama swimmer, and he always wanted to be a hero. He accomplished both.
– Anna Rae Gwarjanski (@annaraeoflight) April 29, 2014

Monday night’s severe weather occurred three years and a day after a tornado in the area killed more than 50 people. City officials said a tornado touched down Monday night near Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, following a similar path to a tornado from December 2000 that killed 11 people in the Taylorville, Ala., area.

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Mark Schlabach

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