BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Brunswick County high school football star and his older brother are dead after an accident on the water in South Carolina over the weekend.
Johnnie Magbie, 19, was a senior at West Brunswick High School and wore number 11 as free safety on the varsity football team.
“He’s so fast, has great hands, but it’s just like the work ethic that’s like what makes an athlete something and he definitely had that,” said teammate Lauch Murphy. “He was an amazing athlete.”
Over the weekend Magbie and his family were riding boating in Horry County, SC when his older brother, 28-year-old Ahykeem Jones, fell into the water. The Horry County Coroner’s office says Magbie jumped in after him attempting to save him, but both brothers tragically died.
“Everybody’s experiencing extreme heartbreak and loss,” said teammate Carter Wyatt. “We lost a brother, he’s more than just a teammate or a friend.”
Head football coach Brett Hickman says he and Magbie had been close since he joined the staff back in 2018.
“Extremely close on and off the field, as close to a father-son type relationship as you can have with a player,” Hickman said.
Hickman, father to two boys of his own, says breaking the news to his team was the most difficult moment of his coaching career.
“I don’t think any parent should have to bury a child, and I don’t think any coach should have to stand in front of 60 guys and tell them what’s going on with maybe the most popular member of the team,” he said.
There are still unanswered questions about what exactly happened when Magbie jumped into the water after Jones, but Magbie’s coach and teammates says his actions show his character.
“Johnnie Magbie laid it on the line for his teammates every Friday night, and I’m not surprised he was willing to lay it on the line for his brother when it really mattered most,” Hickman said.
“He died a hero,” Murphy said. “He’s something that whenever I have kids, I want my kids to be exactly like him.”
The South Carolina Coast Guard said the brothers were wearing life jackets and the jackets were found.
Brunswick County Schools says a crisis response team is available for students and staff.
Hickman says the team is planning a memorial.