Drowning victim would "do anything for anybody," mom says

August 23, 2005|by CANDICE BOSLEY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - "Uncle Johnny" - John K. Severt - was a favorite among his nephews, who are dealing with his death after Severt drowned Saturday at Sleepy Creek Lake outside of Hedgesville, W.Va., Severt's mother said Monday.

"He was kindhearted and he'd do anything for anybody," Peggy M. Severt said of her son.

John Severt, 44, of Martinsburg, was pronounced dead at the lake. Emergency personnel were notified at 4:55 p.m.

While swimming in the lake, which is prohibited, he started flailing his arms and yelling for help, causing two people he was with to believe he was joking, Peggy Severt said.

After Severt went under the water again, however, his friends realized he was in trouble and swam over to him. They pulled him to shore and performed CPR, but were unable to revive him, his mother said.


Severt said four years ago a laser was used to remove a blood clot near her son's lungs.

Along with having a possible medical condition, Severt also was known to drink, smoke three packs of cigarettes a day, and had used drugs in the past, Peggy Severt said.

John Severt's friends told police that Severt had three mixed drinks earlier in the day, Peggy Severt said.

Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Kenneth Lemaster said he was not sure whether toxicology tests were done on Severt's body.

No foul play is suspected in the death, Lemaster said.

A contractor, Severt has been helping with construction on a bar called Loose Cannons. He was considering taking a job for a man who builds houses, Severt's mother said.

She said she is lamenting the loss of her "baby," nine years after losing a daughter in a car wreck.

John Severt was born in Pennsylvania, where he will be buried alongside his father, and attended a high school in Mount Airy, Md., his mother said.

He was known to sing short songs to people, and enjoyed spending time with his family, including his 18-year-old daughter.

"When he got with the family, he was always happy," Peggy Severt said.

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