by: Eric Philips Updated:
GASTON COUNTY, N.C. - Family members of a 21-year-old man are planning a vigil this weekend to honor his life.
Johnathan Cureton jumped from a bridge into Mountain Island Lake last week, but never resurfaced.
Alivia Cureton said she knew her brother was adventurous and lived life to the fullest. But she said she had mixed feelings on July 31 when her brother told her he wanted to jump off the bridge to shoot a YouTube video.
“He was really excited,” Alivia said. “He was so happy. He was like, ‘Yeah, I'm going to do this,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, OK,’ and I was trying to be excited for him but I was like, ‘I don't know. I've never seen anyone jump off a bridge before as something fun to do.’”
She knew he would do it with or without her so she agreed to take him to the lake and shoot the adventure with her iPhone.
She said one thing gave her peace.
“He's a hell of a swimmer so that's why I felt OK with it,” Alivia said.
The cellphone video shows her brother jumping into the water and then both he and his sister started celebrating as he resurfaced and started swimming.
“And I was just like, ‘You did it, you did it.’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, I did it,’ and we were both just happy we were having a conversation," she said.
But then he went under again for some unexplained reason.
His sister called 911 and she said she felt helpless.
Searchers recovered his body the next day.
“I think that's my biggest regret is just not physically looking for him. Not doing something myself because I know he would,” she said.
Johnathan was a sophomore at the University of North Carolina -- Charlotte a 3.6 GPA.
His family said he had just made the 49ers football team and was looking forward to playing this year.
They said he was a loving jokester who never met a stranger.
His mother finally accepted the reality Thursday when she viewed his body.
“And then I looked at his body and I looked at his face and I said, ‘His spirit is gone and it's happy and free like he was,’” said Tamara Campbell, his mother.