“We do it every morning, but most of the time it's 60 degrees.”
Teel Massey decided not to go duck hunting with his three friends on the last day of winter break.
“It was just too cold and I didn't want to get up that early. I called to check on them and didn’t get a call back that morning. Then I got the news,” said Massey.
News spread that Payson Trawick and Thomas Vines had narrowly escaped a sinking boat in freezing conditions.
The third hunter, Matthew Jernigan, was unable to make it to shore.
“Matthew loved life and lived it to the fullest. He was a joy to be around. He had a huge smile,” said Massey.
“The first thing you get when you see him is his smile. He has the most contagious smile I can remember. That's always the first thing you think of when you think of Matthew, said Ben Noble, head baseball coach at SGA.
Southwest Georgia Academy flew its flags at half mast Wednesday in memory of Matthew.
“He was Southwest Georgia Academy. He was close knit with everybody in this area.”
Teachers and coaches say Matthew’s dedication to the game of baseball made him a star at Ted Bush Field.
“He was intelligent, just a smart baseball player. He always pushed himself. He had a bright future ahead of him.”
But what's engrained in their memories even more than Matthew’s athletic promise, is the quality of his character.
“He was always going the extra mile, questioning, trying to learn more.”
“He’s one of those kids who made you smile. He would always speak to you when you saw him.”
“I looked up to him and the way he carried himself. He wanted to be the best he could be.”
All an example for Matthew’s peers to follow as a tribute to a life taken too soon.
The funeral for Matthew Jernigan will be Saturday, January 11th, at 3pm. The ceremony will be held on the baseball field behind Southwest Georgia Academy.