UPDATE: A Facebook memorial page was created Sept. 4.
A 21-year-old man celebrating Black Gay Pride was found submerged in the Holiday Inn pool in College Park on Saturday and rushed to a nearby hospital was pronounced dead a day later.
Henry Lee of Arkansas died in the early morning hours of Sept. 2 after being pulled unconscious from the pool on Aug. 30, according to a police report. The pool party was hosted by Wassup N ATL and The Southern Male Showcase as part of Black Gay Pride. The Southern Male Showcase is an organization that helps at-risk young men with such things as resume writing, job placement and housing placement, said Mario Harris, owner of Wassup N ATL.
East Point Police Major R. Popham said the department responded to a call at the Holiday Inn on Virginia Avenue at 8:57 p.m. The College Park Fire and Rescue Department was already on the scene, he added.
“There was apparently a pool party and people were throwing people into the pool. [Lee] was being pulled out of the pool by four individuals. No one knew how long he was submerged. One of his friends started looking for him after they couldn’t find him and then they found him in the pool,” Popham said.
Popham said Lee, who is known as Amar’e Lee on Facebook, was taken to Atlanta Medical Center South and when officers followed up with the medical staff they were told Lee had recovered with a pulse and was breathing on his own.
“He got admitted to the hospital on Aug. 30 and it appears the medical examiner was notified Sept. 2 of his death,” Popham said.
The cause of death is still undetermined, said Mark Guilbeau, an investigator with the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office, and lab tests including toxicology tests are being conducted.
“We’re not sure yet” what was the cause of death, said Guilbeau.
Popham said there was no physical violence or trauma on Lee’s body.
Harris of Wassup N ATL said he was talking to Lee at about 8:30 p.m.
“He was fine, he was coherent. He was a social butterfly. Everyone was taking their pictures with him,” he said.
Then about 8:50 p.m. Harris returned to the pool and saw four people taking Lee out of the pool and giving him CPR.
“Our team was giving him CPR and dealing with the situation. Everything was good at about 8:30 and then it was different,” Harris added.
The Southern Male Showcase released a statement on Facebook on Sept. 2:
“On the behalf of The Southern Male Showcase I would like extend my condolences to the family Amar’e Lee who passed last night. I pray God strength over his family in this hard time let them be uplifted in love. And I pray peace, light, and progression for the spirit of Amar’e Lee may you be welcomed with open arms by the ancestors and may you comfort in the bosom of God.”
Harris said many stories about what happened are being tossed around.
“Me and the family are trying to find out what happened. We’re getting different stories … everybody’s got their own version. We’re waiting for the police and medical examiner to determine what actually happened,” he said.
Harris said he was grateful Lee’s mother was able to make it to the hospital to be with her son before he died.
“He was a good kid. He was trying to help people, make a difference. You hate to lose people like that so young,” Harris said. “He didn’t smoke, didn’t drink. He was an athlete so he was in good physical shape. He was playing in the water and looked like a big giant [he was 6-foot, 8-inches tall] in the pool. It just baffles me,” Harris said.
“According to a family friend on Monday he started to breathe again and we all thought that was a great sign. Then he went to sleep and died,” he added. “We felt like he was going to be OK.”
A friend he was with at Black Gay Pride gave updates via Facebook of Lee’s condition.
A wake and funeral is set for this weekend.