Alabama swimmer dies saving girlfriend in severe storm

A 21-year-old University of Alabama swimmer who died during a severe storm on Monday is being talked about across the nation as a “true hero.”

John Servanti was killed after a retaining wall in a residence collapsed on him, according to Tuscaloosa spokesperson Megan Brantley. Police believe Servanti’s death was caused by the storm but can not officially confirm that yet. His body was not identified until Tuesday.

A fellow University of Alabama Crimson Tide swimmer named Anna Rae Gwarjanski tweeted, “John Servati died a hero. Held up a concrete wall long enough for his girlfriend to get out from under it before it collapsed again on him.”

Gwarjanski posted a photo of Servanti on Instagram and called him a “true Southern gentleman.”

Servanti was on the Dean’s List at UA, he was involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and he was frequently described as a “golden child” by those around him. He was planning to be the volunteer assistant for his coach’s son’s baseball team after the semester finished.

His friends and family say he was always a team player, putting others before himself. His two main life goals were to become a top swimmer and a national hero. reported, “‘John Servati was an extraordinary young man of great character and warmth who had a tremendously giving spirit,’ Alabama coach Dennis Pursley said in a university statement. ‘During this incredibly difficult time, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to all who had the good fortune to know him. He will forever be in our hearts and a part of the Crimson Tide legacy.’”

Contact Kristen DeSilva at on Twitter @kristendesilva.