The drowning death of 16-year-old K.J. Harrison on Wednesday has left the Snow Canyon High School and greater St. George communities in mourning.
Snow Canyon had a reason to celebrate at the end of the school year, taking home the Class 3A baseball championship. But the death of one of the players who helped deliver it has been nothing short of devastating for his family, his teammates and friends.
"I can't really believe it," coach Reed Secrist said. "He was definitely well-respected here, the type that didn't have a bad thing to say about anybody. It obviously leaves a huge hole in our baseball program, but that doesn't seem to be as important now."
Harrison, a rising junior at the school, drowned in the Supai Canyon, located on the west side of the Grand Canyon, Coconino County Sheriff spokesman Gerry Blair confirmed. News of his death reached St. George on Wednesday afternoon.
Harrison leaves behind his parents and five older sisters, as well as a large community who remembered him as a fun person to be around.
Secrist's own son, Brogan, was close with Harrison as a teammate as well as off the field. Reed Secrist said Harrison had been over many times, and since his death, his son had been struggling.
"We're trying to make sure they're all right and help them through the grieving process," Secrist said. "KJ was a good friend to everybody, and the team has been spending time together."
Secrist said that many members of the community were planning to hold a 9 p.m. candlelight vigil on Thursday at the school. The St. George Spectrum reported that the vigil would be held on the baseball field, and mourners could sign a poster at the ceremony and donate money to help the family.
Harrison played second base for the championship Warriors team. Secrist said the title he helped Snow Canyon win would always be a little more hollow without him.
"We were getting ready to get our championship rings," he said. "Now there will be one missing."