An out-of-control Memorial Day pool party ended in tragedy Monday after a 19-year-old man drowned — an accident that went largely unnoticed by his peers.
As reported by CBS46, police were called to the 500 Apartments in Midtown Atlanta to break up an unauthorized party at the community pool. After the partygoers had scattered, it was then that police found the body of Georgia Southern University student Shomari Billings.
They attempted CPR on the young man, but it was too late. Video posted to social media also showed multiple partygoers trying to resuscitate Billings before police arrived.
Residents at the complex called the police just before 8 p.m. to complain about the massive crowd at the pool, as their leasing office was closed because of the holiday. A party attendee told Atlanta’s CBS46 there were well over 1,000 people at the poolside shindig.
“There were probably about 20 people in the water; it was crowded all the way around,” Matthew Jones said. “You couldn’t even move. So, I guess he [Billings) was in the water and people were just partying and nobody really saw him.”
Witnesses said Billings had been underwater for at least 20 minutes before anyone noticed him. It’s unclear if a lifeguard was on duty at the time.
Authorities said they believe Billings drowned, though they’re still awaiting an official ruling from the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office. So far, they do not suspect foul play in the incident.
Managers at the Atlanta complex sent a letter to residents alerting them to Monday’s tragedy.
“Dear Residents, you may have heard about a tragic event at the pool this weekend,” it began. “Someone held an unauthorized event at the pool. The media is reporting that, tragically, a young person drowned. Our hearts go out to his friends and family.”
The managers went on to address some “critical points” about water safety, including that drowning doesn’t always look like what one might expect.
“The Red Cross says people often slip under the water or even appear to be swimming but can be in distress,” they wrote. “It’s important for everyone to keep an eye out for others in the water, especially when no lifeguard is on duty.”
The complex said it’s cooperating with police in their search to find out who’s responsible for organizing the party. Managers reiterated that the pool is for residents only and said that any resident found responsible for throwing or promoting the event would be evicted.
Billings was a sophomore honor roll student at Georgia Southern, where he majored in management.
Several questions remain unanswered about the tragic incident, and the young man’s parents are demanding to know who authorized the parry and why their son was even in the pool.
“My baby couldn’t swim,” Billings’ mom told CBS46 through tears. “What happened on that day, I don’t know. They went to pool parties [but] he never got in the water.”
“I don’t know why my baby got in the water this time,” she added.
CBS46 reported that authorities said no drugs or alcohol were found in Billings’ system. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.