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Teen died trying to save girls

MEADVILLE — Bobby J. O’Quinn died the way he lived, and the coaches who knew his football heroics hope his family’s grief is shrouded in proper pride.

O’Quinn, 18, drowned Saturday after jumping into Franklin County’s Okhissa Lake in an apparent attempt to save two young girls.

Audrienna Shante Lofton, 7, of the Jackson area also drowned.

Bobby O'Quinn

O’Quinn was able to get Lofton’s sister to safety, though, Franklin County Sheriff James Newman said.

Franklin County football coach Rickey O’Quinn — no direct relation — said he would expect no less from the 2010 graduate.

“He saved us on Friday nights when he played. He was a football hero, and he died a hero,” Rickey O’Quinn said.

“I addressed the team a few minutes ago, and I told them it didn’t shock me at all that he would go out there and try to save the girl.”

The girls were attending a birthday party on the north side of the lake near a roped off swimming area, Newman said.

“The little girls were in shorts wading out there,” he said. “They got in water over their heads, and my understanding is Bobby was trying to get them out. When he got in distress, he was spotted by some folks.”

A 911 call came in at approximately 3:30 Saturday afternoon.

Newman said, according to reports from friends and family, Bobby O’Quinn did not know how to swim.

Lofton’s body was recovered at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, but O’Quinn’s body was not found until 10:30 a.m. Monday.

Dive teams from Franklin, Pike and Forrest counties searched through the weekend, Newman said.

“It was a pretty concentrated effort to try and locate the body,” he said. “The depth of the lake can vary a good bit.”

Bobby O’Quinn, a defensive lineman for the Bulldogs, was the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.

He was recruited heavily by Copiah-Lincoln Community College, coach Glenn Davis said, and signed with the Wolves.

O’Quinn, who wore No. 72 at Co-Lin this fall and at FCHS, was expected to be a star on the Wolves team this year.

“We were expecting big things,” Davis said. “He was a tough, hard-nosed guy.

“None of this surprises me any at all. That’s the way he was — jumping off into it and doing something about it.”

O’Quinn had taken the spring semester off, Co-Lin Director of Public Information Natalie Davis said, but was likely headed back to school for summer classes.

He was enrolled last fall in a career-tech field of study.

Davis said the Co-Lin family spent Monday thinking of O’Quinn.

“I know some of our kids who knew him are very sad and shocked, but they are not shocked by what he tried to do. He had a big heart.”

Rickey O’Quinn said the Bulldog family was grieving, but also remembering the times when the small defensive lineman gave them needed spark on the field and in their lives. The team plans to retire O’Quinn’s jersey number.

“He played like a giant,” Rickey O’Quinn said. “He was a courageous guy; he was fearless.”

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