Remembering Carmen Johnson: Priceville teen drowns in Smith Lake while swimming with family

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WINSTON COUNTY, Ala. - The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says a swimming incident on Lewis Smith Lake claimed the life of a Hartselle teen Saturday afternoon.

15-year-old Carmen Elizabeth Johnson drowned while swimming with family off a boat dock at a residence near Double Springs in Winston County. ALEA was called to the scene around 12:45 Saturday afternoon. Johnson was pulled from the water around 2:45 p.m. and she was pronounced dead on the scene.

Family members on Facebook say Johnson had been electrocuted in the water.

ALEA's Marine Patrol Division is still investigating.

Remembering Carmen Johnson

Carmen was a cheerleader for Priceville High School.  “That smile, fun, ready to laugh," says Denise Neils. Herself, along with Jamie Weathersby Smith say the high school sophomore took her cheerleader enthusiasm with her into the classroom.  “When something had happened, she would be the one that eased the kids and would say hey - everything’s going to be okay," says Smith.

Smith taught Carmen in the 6th and 7th grade.  “She’s just so special to my heart and she is one of the most precious, sweet children I’ve ever taught in all 26 years that I was a teacher," she says.

Emma Hopkins and Alex Terry began cheering with Carmon their 8th grade year, and say Saturday's news was heartbreaking. “You never saw it coming, we were talking to her last night, it was so sudden and that’s one of the things that makes it so hard," says Terry.

Some of her classmates came together in prayer Saturday afternoon.  “I went to the prayer club at Veterans today and there was so many people, the whole pavilion was filled up, and that shows you how close everyone really is," says Emma Hopkins.

Now, they must come to grips with saying goodbye to the best flyer on their cheerleading squad. Her former teachers hope the community will support each other, yet again.  “There’s a lot of love in this community and when one part of the family hurts, the whole family hurts," says Neils.

Morgan County Superintendent Bill Hopkins said grief counselors and local youth pastors would be available to kids at the middle and high school.

Stay with WHNT News 19 on air, on and on social media as we continue to follow this story.

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