A Berks County teenager will be laid to rest just days before he was set to graduate from high school.
Jared Lee Gehman, 17, of Spring Township, died last Thursday, May 8, while on a senior class trip to Grenada.
Jared, a senior at Terre Hill Mennonite High School in neighboring Lancaster County, drowned while snorkeling with classmates at Grand Anse Beach, which is located on the western side of the island.
"He was just a friend to everyone and a good guy. He will be missed," said Duane Weber, the school's principal.
Jared, active in both church and school, was set to graduate on May 23, but first, his family said he was looking forward to the missions trip to Grenada with classmates.
It was on that trip last week when Jared's parents got a call from one of the teachers.
"They were at Saint George's Hospital in Grenada and told us the only good news they had for us was that the ambulance left the beach with its sirens blaring," said Jared's father, Nelson Gehman.
Jared had been building concrete steps earlier that morning. He and his friends finished early, so they decided to go to the beach to snorkel, but when they finished snorkeling, the lifeguard noticed Jared was missing.
"They found him, drug him in and immediately did CPR on him, but it was too late," said Gehman.
Jared had drowned. It was a shock to his family and fellow students on the trip.
"We had lots of days where we were crying and draw strength from the Lord. We have a lot of church friends and family close by that have come, lots of hugs, lots of flowers," said Jared's mother, Dorita Gehman.
"We, as a school, have been supporting each other, praying together, talking through the experience and thankful we do have a God to call upon when something like this happens," said Weber.
Now, Nelson and Dorita Gehman are preparing to bury their son just weeks before his 18th birthday.
"We do not have any regrets. We just feel like Jared was making good decisions and we had a good relationship at home. He was a good son. He was walking with the Lord," said Gehman.
Funeral services will take place Thursday at 10 a.m. at Weaverland Mennonite Church, 210 Weaverland Valley Rd., East Earl. Jared will be laid to rest in the Bowmansville Mennonite Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions in Jared's name be made to Terre Hill Mennonite High School, 1416 Union Grove Rd., Terre Hill, PA 17581.
Jared's family has set up a Facebook page in his memory.