VALDOSTA, Ga. — A south Georgia high school student apparently climbed atop an upright roll of wrestling mats, fell into a center opening and died after he became trapped inside, authorities said.
Lowndes High School student Kendrick Johnson, 17, became lodged inside the roll of mats, upside down, Lowndes County sheriff’s officials said Monday. His body was found Friday morning in the high school’s old gym after his family reported him missing Thursday night.
No foul play is suspected, authorities said. An autopsy and an investigation by sheriff’s officials and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found no signs of a struggle, Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine told The Valdosta Times.
It is possible Johnson may have been reaching for a shoe that had fallen into the mat, Prine said. A shoe was found at the scene.
“At some point, Kendrick Johnson either reached into the center of one of the rolled mats or fell into the center opening of the mat and became lodged,” sheriff’s officials said in a statement.
“We feel like he was trying to reach a shoe that was down that hole,” the sheriff said, adding that no one knows for sure why he reached into the mat.
The student was upside down in the mat, with blood rushing to his head and upper extremities, causing him to pass out, the sheriff said. Keeping a human body upside down for an extended period of time can be deadly, causing hemorrhaging, stroke and heart failure.
Although investigators do not believe foul play was involved, the sheriff said he and his investigators will continue interviewing students and friends who have additional information.