Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson Thursday identified the South High School student who drowned in Lake Nokomis Wednesday.
Sha-kym Adams, 15, was the teen who drowned in the Minneapolis lake during a swim with a group of friends, Johnson said.
"Our hearts are heavy with the tragic death of Sha-kym Adams on Wednesday," Johnson said in a statement. "We are all profoundly saddened by the loss, and will keep the family in our thoughts and prayers. Our hearts go out to his teammates and friends, as well as the staff at South High. This is a close community, one that will rally together to support one another."
More than 100 people gathered Thursday afternoon for a vigil at the beach where Adams drowned. Adams' parents, siblings and friends released 15 balloons into the air in his memory.
His mother, Kimberly Adams thanked those in attendance and asked them not to neglect their families.
"So you go home and you kiss your parents, you might've pissed them off this morning, who cares. But you hug them and you kiss them," Adams said. "Whisper in their ear if you don't want to say it out loud. I love you. And you kiss your children. I love you. It's not that hard. Cause I know I wish I would've said it. Every single day."
Adams told her son's teammates that the drowning was an accident and not their fault.
South High School head football coach Lenny Sedlock said Adams was in a leadership program at South, something he did voluntarily.
"He's been here every day all summer," Sedlock said. "Our upper classmen saw him as a leader as a 15-year-old sophomore just because of the way he did things all summer long. And so it's just... wonderful young man, wonderful young man."
Water patrol officers found Adams' body Wednesday morning in 15-foot-deep water about an hour after their search began, using sonar. The teen, who was with a group of about seven friends, was swimming out to join his friends on a platform in the lake when he began to show signs of distress, said Lt. Art Saunders of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office. The boy's friends could not find him, and a passerby called 911.
"It's my understanding that they heard him having trouble," Saunders said. "He yelled for help, and then went under, and then they tried to locate him after that."
There was no lifeguard on duty at the beach -- the beach has a lifeguard Thursdays through Sundays, according to Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board spokeswoman Robin Smothers. Lifeguards giving swimming lessons at Lake Nokomis' larger beach came to help when they heard sirens, but it was too late.
Minneapolis Public Schools is providing support to students and staff who are coping with the loss, according to Johnson. Families are encouraged to call South High School at 612-668-4300 for assistance.
Your support matters.
You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.