Fairhope graduate dies in Tuscaloosa

By Curt Chapman
Staff Writer
Posted 4/19/07

Zachary Abel Moore, 21, a 2004 Fairhope High School graduate, died Tuesday afternoon, April 17, at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, after collapsing earlier at the University of Alabama Aquatic Center.

UA spokesperson Cathy Andreen said …

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Fairhope graduate dies in Tuscaloosa


Zachary Abel Moore, 21, a 2004 Fairhope High School graduate, died Tuesday afternoon, April 17, at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, after collapsing earlier at the University of Alabama Aquatic Center.

UA spokesperson Cathy Andreen said the business major and junior classman suddenly fell ill while taking part in a beginner’s scuba diving class at the facility.

“It would be inaccurate to say he drowned,” said Andreen. “At this time, the cause of death is not known.” An autopsy has been completed, but the results had not been released prior to press time on Friday, April 20.

Moore, who according to university records was a Bay Minette resident, was pronounced dead at the hospital around 2:45 p.m. CPR efforts on campus were unsuccessful.

Andreen said the class takes place from 1 to 2:30, and someone called 911 around 2. Moore’s death is being investigated by the Tuscaloosa Area Multi-Agency Task Force.

Baldwin County Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack said details about the incident are slow in coming. He was told Moore was involved in a drill that involved using some of the scuba gear under water.

Moore’s family is naturally overwhelmed with grief.

“They’re devastated by this,” said Mack. “They were a very close family. They’re getting a lot of support, but this is a trying time for them.”

Moore’s dad, Chris, is a corporal in the investigative division of Mack’s department, and has been a deputy sheriff for 10 years.

Many in the community have expressed a sense of loss.

Dr. Beverly Thomas, FHS principal, called Moore “a really nice kid, really involved in football.” She said she transferred to the high school late in Moore’s senior year as a Pirate, but was also principal of Fairhope Middle School while he was a student there.

“He had lots of friends, and stayed in close touch with three or four from the high school,” Thomas said. She added, “We’re really upset for the family. We’re heartsick and saddened by it.”

The educator talked about a passage in the high school’s 2004 yearbook where Moore was quoted in reference to his experience as coach of the senior girls’ Powder Puff football team that year. On an activity page, he lamented their loss of the game, but ended on a positive note, saying, “Powder Puff was a lot of fun. In the end, they just wanted it more than we did. We played hard, and I was proud to coach them. All you can ask for is 100 percent.”

Thomas pointed out the statement reflected Moore’s life and determination.

“That was the kind of kid he was,” Thomas said. “He worked hard to get an education at Alabama.”

Mack agrees. He said, “Zach had a lot of things in the wings that were going to happen in his life.”

Moore interned in the District Attorney’s office about a year ago, Mack said, and showed what he was made of. Moore also proved his mettle on the gridiron, having been a non-starter for Fairhope early in his high school football career, before advancing to starting center as a senior.

“In some respects, he was mature beyond his years,” Mack noted. “A unique quality he had was he was a young man of vision. He knew what he wanted to do.”

Moore had recently decided to apply for officer training with the United States Marine Corps, according to Mack. He would have been following in a family tradition. Moore’s dad is a Chief Petty Officer in the Naval Reserve, and served two tours of duty in the Middle East — the most recent ending late last year.

“When Zach was born, Chris was on a ship on deployment, and didn’t get to see his new son for weeks,” Mack said.

Close friend Jared Saltz said Moore was “a real good guy. He loved everybody. He meant a lot to his friends. You could go to him and talk about anything, and I felt comfortable talking about things I couldn’t talk to others about.”

But, when it came down to choosing between friends and family, Moore seemed to subscribe to the old adage, blood is thicker than water.

“He loved his family. He loved his mom (Melanie) and dad like nobody else I know,” Saltz said. “When he would come home, I’d ask him to hang out, and he said he’d rather spend time with his mom.”

Saltz said he saw Moore for the last time on March 16, when the two had dinner together before going to the beach in Perdido Key, Fla. with friends. He last chatted with him on the phone two weeks ago as he (Saltz) returned home from the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Ga.

“I talked to him the Saturday before last. We were thinking about doing the Mullet Man Triathlon at the Flora-Bama (today), but decided not to,” he said.

Saltz said those he has spoken with since word of Moore’s death spread are feeling the loss.

“We’re in shock — maybe even denial,” he said. “He meant a lot to everybody. When we first heard the news, it was unreal.”

Mack said, “None of us are perfect, but Zach had a committed, hard work ethic. I wish we saw more of that in our young people.”

In addition to his mother and father, Zach Moore is survived by his sister, Courtney Moore of Mobile; niece, Mary-Camila; maternal grandparents, Dennis and Sue Norton of Eight Mile; paternal grandparents, Dwight Moore of Mobile and Dorothy McWhirter of Mobile; his girlfriend, Lauren Bell of Knoxville, Tenn.; his devoted dog, Wallace; and many other relatives and friends.

The family will receive friends Saturday, April 21, from 5-8 p.m., at Wolfe-Bayview Funeral Home in Fairhope. Funeral services will be held Sunday, April 22, at 1 p.m., from the funeral home chapel. Burial will follow in Memory Gardens of Fairhope.

Instead of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to the Zachary A. Moore Memorial Scholarship Fund at your neighborhood Wachovia Bank.