As he grieves the death of his fraternity brother and schoolmate, Craig Mitchell also recalls what stands out most to him about his friend, Te-Andre Brown.
“He was a superhero,” Mitchell told Atlanta Black Star during an interview. “If I had to use one word to describe him, it would-be superhero,” Mitchell stated emphatically.
Brown, a senior at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, died while trying to help save someone else’s life during a spring break trip to St. Andrew Bay, near the coast of Panama City, Florida. The 21-year-old business administration major was one of 10 people on the March 15 outing, which would have made for Brown’s final spring break getaway before graduation. A diving team deployed by the U.S. Coast Guard and Bay County Sheriff’s Office recovered his body Monday, March 16.
Brown was on a rented pontoon boat that the group was en route to return, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “They stopped so they could swim. People were jumping off the vessel and swimming back to it”, the FWC said. “One female jumped off the vessel and was having trouble swimming. Four persons jumped in and got her back to the boat. During this incident, Mr. Brown did not come back up to the surface.”
A GoFundMe page established by a fraternity brother of Brown’s shed more light on the incident: “Andre was the one who first made contact with the young lady and passed her to his brothers so that they could get her back on the boat. Te-Andre took every action to ensure that all passengers returned safely to the boat before him. Even though Brown was a good swimmer, he was overcome by the heavy tides.”
An FWC dive team, along with a helicopter unit through the Bay County Sheriff’s Office searched that evening for Brown “until darkness with no success,” the FWC said. After about three hours of searching the next morning, FWC dive team officers located his body through the use of side-scan sonar.
Brown was a member of the Army ROTC at FAMU and the school’s Spring 2019 line of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Mitchell, who pledged with Brown, said he isn’t surprised Brown risked his life to save someone else’s.
“I was talking with my line brothers, and that’s not something we’d expect from anybody but ‘Dre,” said Mitchell. “That’s the type of person he was.”
The 20-year-old Mitchell remembered Brown as someone who was a dedicated student and student leader at FAMU. He described his brother as someone who wanted to make sure everyone in his life was safe.
Brown’s death, Mitchell added, “explained his life,” because he always put the needs of others before his own.
“His main focus was making sure the girl was straight.”
Brown, Mitchell shared, faced difficulties, including potentially losing his scholarship and a car repossession, but life’s troubles never got him down.
Mitchell expressed that he was genuinely happy to have known Brown.
“My fondest memory together is just being brothers with Te-Andre,” he said.
Dr. Shawnta Friday-Stroud, dean of the FAMU School of Business and Industry, has expressed her condolences.
“Our hearts are saddened by the tragic loss of Te-Andre Brown, one of SBI’s high performing students,” she said in a statement.
“He made his mark in SBI and on this campus,” the statement continued. “We were eagerly anticipating seeing all the things Te-Andre was going to achieve including graduating with his B.S. in Business Administration and MBA. He was a caring and professional young man whose life was cut too short. Our prayers and thoughts are with his family, friends, and classmates during this difficult time.”