Stags community, family band together in wake of player's tragedy

Weathers with head coach Jerry Brown.
Weathers with head coach Jerry Brown.

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - "I hate it but what can we do? My little grandson is gone," said Clarence Jameson, grandfather to DJ Weathers, the Berkeley High School football stand-out who died in a car crash Saturday night.

Three days after Deonte Weathers caught two touchdown passes in the Stags' win over Stratford and two days after his car skidded off the road and into a power pole, friends, family and coaches in Berkeley County are still reeling from the news of Weathers' death.

Coming to terms with the news will take longer still.

The accident happened on Black Tom Road. In fact, it happened in a relative's front yard. The skid marks are still visible in the road. Residents said Weathers struck the power pole with enough force to bring the pole down on his car. Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury said Weathers died at the scene. Salisbury said Weathers was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.

Weathers' mother said almost everyone who lives on that stretch of Black Tom Road is a family member. They have been all gathered at Jameson's home since the accident, holding on to each other and their faith as they work their way through the days ahead.

Now the scene of the accident has been transformed into a makeshift memorial. Under balloons and a banner noting Weathers' number, messages saying, "DJ, you will never be forgotten" have been left.

Students at Berkeley High are also memorializing Weathers. The school district said students are struggling with the immense shock and grief from the loss of Weathers and counselors are working overtime to help the student body. He was a star on the gridiron, but Weathers was also a 16-year-old who loved to hang out with friends and family.

"He was just an awesome guy. He was like any 16-year-old he would take advantage of things when the parents are not around. He just got in the car and went out joy riding and lord, look at what happened," Jameson said.

Weathers had been a member of the Stags varsity football team since 8th grade. He loved baseball. He also gave his mother away on her wedding day eight years ago.

Saturday night, Berkeley head coach Dr. Jerry Brown said he and his staff were going to be as supportive as possible to the team and ask them "to probe their hearts" to find the best way for them individually and as a team to proceed.

Even though they were a player short, it didn't stop the Stags from running practice drills Monday afternoon.

"It's been pretty tough, but we're going to pull through it for DJ," said senior teammate James Usher.

Since Weathers' tragic death the team has huddled up for different reasons- to pray and talk about Weathers.

"Early this morning the whole team met in the gym and the coaches talked to us. We were all pretty sad this morning. They [the coaches] told us God's in control and he's going to take care of us and everything's going to be alright," Usher said.

Coach Brown said his team has really grown up in the wake of this tragedy and he hopes his young players will be able to cope with their loss.

"They want to do two things: they want to honor DJ and give God the glory," Brown continued, "God will give them the strength and wisdom. We've got good leadership on the team, and we'll be okay. I'm worried about the community and his family."

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Milligan's Funeral Home. Weathers' mother said the funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Berkeley High School Auditorium.

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