Notre Dame Recruit Falls To Death In Repeat Of Tragic Spring Break Accident

April 3rd, 2010 – by Cory

Panama City Beach Florida has always been known for good times, amazing beaches and beautiful people. On Friday night, that picturesque scene was shattered once again when yet another vacationer was tragically killed after a hotel balcony fall.

The victim this time was Matt James, a 6-foot-6 290 pound offensive tackle from St. Xavier high school in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dreams of playing big time football will now never come to fruition as the 17 year old fell to his death from a fifth floor balcony at the Days Inn on Front Beach Road. The accident happened at approximately 6:30pm Friday evening.

It is said that alcohol was involved in the accident, and James’ friends told officers that James was intoxicated. Before the fall, James had supposedly been arguing with other hotel guests which led to the fatal fall. Police say James was leaning over the balcony to argue with guests in a neighboring room when he went over the railing.

James played a big role in St. Xavier finishing 4th overall in the final USA Today Ohio prep rankings. In addition, James garnered USA Today First-Team All-American honors during his senior season, making him a sought after recruit by many of the nation’s top collegiate football programs.

Among those that took notice of James’ accomplishments and abilities was Brian Kelly, while Kelly was still at the University of Cincinnati. After jumping the Bearcat’s ship for the more prestigious job at Notre Dame, Kelly was still very much interested in recruiting James.

James ended up making the commitment to Notre Dame on national signing day and was quoted by the Cincinnati Enquirer citing, “I like the situation of being in the first class with Coach [Brian] Kelly there,” as being the reason for choosing Notre Dame over in state school Ohio State.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Kelly learned of the incident at 7:45pm on Friday night. Kelly felt a connection with the young man, and was shaken by the news.

“There’s a personal connection there. When a young man makes a decision to follow you to another university, you feel like you’re providing him the opportunity that he’s wanted his whole life. That makes it very personal. Obviously he chose Notre Dame, but he chose to be part of my first recruiting class too,” said Kelly to the Enquirer.

“To lose a young man at 17 years old who had such an incredible future ahead of him is tragic, but as much as I think of that I can’t get away from the heartbreak I feel for his family,” said Kelly. “They’re wonderful people who raised an incredible son. That’s the thing that’s hard for me.”

There is no doubt that the tragic passing of James will hurt those close to him as well as the Irish program. Hopes have been renewed this Spring in South Bend with the hiring of Kelly, but this news will surely put a damper on things. The Irish are looking to break the funk that has been over the program during the Charlie Weis era, and this news isn’t helping matters. Oddsmakers had labeled the Notre Dame Fighting Irish with 70 to 1 odds to win the BCS National Title in 2010 according to College Football Future Lines at Bodog Sportsbook.

Matt James was not the first victim to fall to their death from a Panama City Beach hotel over this annual spring break season.

On March 24th, a 19 year old man fell to his death from a 5th floor balcony at the Holiday Terrace Hotel. In addition, two others have also fallen from other hotels, however injuries sustained were not fatal.

Over the years, this has been a repeated tragedy that has claimed the lives of many beach goers both young and old. Just two years ago a 56 year old woman fell to her death from a balcony.

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One Response to “Notre Dame Recruit Falls To Death In Repeat Of Tragic Spring Break Accident”
  1. Darryl E. Fox Says:

    17 year-olds should not be going to Florida on Spring Break. They were taken by 6 parents from St. X. Congrats. It reminds me of those parent-sponsored booze parties…

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