YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Former Boardman High School football player Darius Sanders, 23, drowned while swimming in a Michigan lake over the weekend. Now his family and friends are remembering him as a man who loved life and was looking forward to a great future.
“I kind of knew if I didn’t get out of the water, I was going to die,” said Aaron Jenkins, Darius’ best friend. “[Darius] gave me the strength to get back on the boat.”
Darius’ tragic death spotlights the impact he had on so many people and the legacy he will undoubtedly leave behind.
“That was the worst call that a parent could ever, ever get,” said Syreeta Morgan, Darius’ mother.
“It was terrible. It was the worst day of my life,” said Uriah Sanders, Darius’ father.
Their son jumped off a boat into the lake but never came back up.
Aaron remembers it all, saying he jumped in to try to save Darius.
“It’s just that feeling that you get when you feel, like, everything disappear into thin air,” Aaron said.
He knows how to swim but the current underneath made it difficult.
“He took his last breath when I dove for him,” Aaron said.
It was a moment he’ll never forget.
“As I dove in for him, I made eye contact with him and I know now that’s just the one thing I wanted him to know — that I was coming for him,” Aaron said.
Rescue teams recovered Darius’ body Sunday morning but the loss is unbearable for the people he left behind.
“Now I just feel like half of me is gone,” Aaron said.
“He was like my best friend,” Uriah said.
“I know I’ll see my son again,” Syreeta said.
They all said Darius lived life to the fullest and beyond.
“You don’t want to get stuck in just this one spot and this is all you know, is the south side of Youngstown,” Uriah said. “It’s a bigger world than that so get out and see it sometime.”
That’s exactly what Darius did. He traveled the world, created his own business and never stopped pushing forward.
“He inspired hundreds of people but now that he’s gone, I feel like he’s going to inspire thousands,” Aaron said.