Collinsville football player drowns in Meramec River, candlelight celebration planned


COLLINSVILLE, Ill. – The Metro East community of Collinsville is mourning the loss of 15-year-old Horace Grigsby III. He had just finished his freshman year with the Collinsville High School football team.

Collinsville High School Head Football Coach Colton Rhodes said he heard about the tragedy shortly after it happened Saturday. Grigsby was swimming in the Meramec River in Franklin County on Saturday.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s report, Grigsby got in the water, “the depth of the water became too deep,” he went under and never came back up.

“The number of drownings overall has seemed to kind of increase; we don’t really have a reason for it,” Missouri State Highway Patrol Cpl. Dallas Thompson said. “I think a lot of the reasons for the drownings that we see, especially recently, is just that people are overestimating their swimming ability.”

“He’s just outgoing, he’s the type of guy who is always talking,” Rhodes said. “He is always probably the loudest kid at practice but he’s always giving everybody the laughs.”

Rhodes was Grigsby’s PE teacher throughout middle school as well. He just saw him on Thursday for practice and has a memory that is going to last in Rhodes mind forever.

“All I could think about was Horace and his family and then immediately after that, I was like what about the rest of the kids?” Rhodes said.

Collinsville Community Unit School District #10 Superintendent Mark Slertich released the following statement:

“On behalf of Collinsville Community School District #10, I am profoundly saddened by the loss of Horace Grigsby, a student at Collinsville High School. Our deepest sympathy goes out to Horace’s family and friends during this difficult time. The district’s Help and Response Team (H.A.R.T.) of specially trained staff has prepared a letter to CHS families which includes resources to support their children through the grieving process. Due to it being summer break, we wanted to provide factual information and links to help our students through the upcoming days and weeks should they have difficulties with this news. Our thoughts and continued prayers are with the family.”

Thompson with MSHP said troopers seem to be responding to more drownings in rivers and large creeks than usual and it is tough on troopers.

“Once we hear of an individual going underneath the water and not resurfacing you pretty much get in the mindset that we’re here for a recovery effort, we’re not here o rescue anybody, we’re here to search and recover somebody and that’s rough on our troopers,” Thompson said.

“Knowing they don’t have a chance of helping somebody, they don’t have a chance of rescuing somebody but they are just going to go out and recover a body and then have to deliver the notification to their families.”

Cpl. Dallas Thompson said when you go out, always have safety in mind and keep your lifejacket on because incidents can happen quickly in the water and you might not have time to grab the lifejacket.

Red Cross Regional Communications Director Sharon Watson said it’s important to take water safety important. The Red Cross offers free water safety courses.

“Swimming dangers are really there for anyone even if you’re an experienced swimmer,” she said. “The dangers around water especially in areas it’s very important to be careful about jumping or diving in areas you’re not familiar with.”

Injury Prevention Nurse Coordinator at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital Lori Winkler said it is important to make sure you have a lifejacket that is Coast Guard approved.

“It can only take 20 to 60 seconds to pull you under and for a child to drown,” Winkler said.

There’s a candlelight celebration of life set for Grigsby Thursday night beginning at 8:30 p.m. at Raider’s Field – Collinsville Sports Complex.

“My heart just bleeds for his family and his friends,” Winkler said.

A Meal Train donation page has been established for Grigsby’s family.

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