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Valley Graduate Drowns During Rescue Attempt

Allen’s 2005 Senior Portrait from Water Valley High School

By Jack Gurner

PANAMA CITY – A Water Valley High School graduate who served as an Army paratrooper died this weekend while attempting to save some teenagers.

Pierre Emmanuel Allen, 21, drowned at Panama City Beach, Fla., after he and friend, Derek Croy,  attempted to reach several teens that were being dragged out to sea by strong currents, according to Sgt. Tony Walker with the Bay County Florida Sheriff’s Office.

Allen and Croy, also a Water Valley native and a soldier, were in Florida for a four-day holiday weekend.

Croy said that he and Allen were on the beach about 2 p.m. Saturday when they saw several teenagers who appeared to be having problems. “They were about 200 meters out and we could tell something was wrong,” Croy said.

Croy and Allen were not swimming because red warning flags were flying up and down the Gulf Coast, warning of strong winds and currents.

The pair swam to the teens, but turned back after other rescuers reached the scene. Croy said that he and Allen stayed close together during the swim back to shore, but he lost sight of Allen.

Another swimmer met Croy as he neared shore and stayed with him until they reached the beach. He was then told that Allen had disappeared from view. “They wouldn’t let me go back in after him,” Croy said.

Allen was a good swimmer, according to Croy. “He had Army Ranger training.”

Allen’s body was found about 100 yards off shore Sunday near Laguna Beach where he went missing Saturday.

Allen graduated from Water Valley High School in 2005. Dr. Glenn Kitchens, Principal of WVHS, said that Allen was a good student and “outstanding kid.”  

Kitchens recalled an incident after school when he heard someone in the hall. “It was Pierre getting his history book,” Kitchens said. “He needed it to study.”

His math teacher, Sammie Cobern, said, “You have children you remember. Pierre was one of those. This is such a loss to the community.”

Murray Dixon, who was Allen’s track coach, said that he was a great athlete and all around good student.

Allen was the son of Steve Allen of Water Valley. His sister, Stephanie, graduated from WVHS this year. Allen’s wife, LaRhonda, and four children live in Water Valley.

Allen was an honor student, a member of the Beta Club, and a part of the award winning East Lab Conference Team in 2001.

Officials at Fort Bragg said that a memorial service would be held for Allen, but a time had not been set. Local funeral arrangements are incomplete.

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