The mother of Bryce Gowdy, a 17-year-old wide receiver from Florida who died on Monday after being struck by a train, says her son was fighting “demons” in the days leading up to his death.
In an emotional 11-minute video posted to social media, Gowdy’s mother, Shibbon Winelle, opened up about the struggles her son was experiencing before his death, which was ruled a suicide by the Broward County Medical Examiner on Tuesday.
“A few days ago, Bryce was talking crazy,” she said in the video, which can be seen on YouTube. “He kept talking about the signs and the symbols that he was seeing all over the place. He could see the world for what it really was. He kept saying he could see people for who they really are.”
Gowdy had recently been recruited to play football at Georgia Tech and had finished his high school classes a semester early in order to join the university on January 6, according to CNN. He was one of the top-ranked high school wide receivers in the country, the Washington Post reported.
“He was happy though, he was talking about his future,” Winelle said in the video while fighting back tears. “He was talking about going to Georgia Tech and we were having a lot of spiritual conversations.”
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“He had a lot of questions about spirituality and life, and he kept asking me if I was okay, or if his brothers were going to be okay, I kept telling him ‘yeah’ all day … he sat next to me all day just talking,” Winelle recalled.
“I was stressed out, I was too stressed to really deal with it,” she continued. “We were on the streets again, homeless … and I was so stressed out about taking care of my kids.”
That’s when Winelle said she told her son that he was going to have to discover the strength to resolve these questions on his own.
“You have to dig in and fight these demons that you’re fighting,” Winelle said she told him. “[I] had my own demons that I was trying to fight.”
“His energy was so intense,” she added. “I could feel the pain in his soul, and it was breaking my heart.”
On Monday night, as the family stayed at a hotel, Winelle asked her son to retrieve a blanket from the car. After 20 minutes passed and Gowdy hadn’t returned, Winelle went down to the car and found the blanket — and her son — gone.
“I sat there for like 20 minutes just thinking,” she said. “Like, ‘Come on, I know you’re going to come back. I know you’re going to come back.’ “
The next morning, Winelle’s brother called to say there were reports of an accident involving a train. Gowdy’s death would be confirmed later on that day.
“My baby walked in front of a train and he killed himself,” Winelle said in the video.
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SOURCE: People – Jason Duaine Hahn