Family and friends, as well as faculty and staff at Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, N.C., are mourning the tragic loss of one of their own.

Lee Rickman, 25, of High Point, passed away Saturday, June 13, in Jamaica after he was struck by a falling tree branch. The branch caused Rickman to fall, where he hit the back of his head on a concrete bench. Rickman taught six grade English at the school and was slated to teach computer science in the coming year.

Also hurt in the accident was Paul Coates, chaplain at Wesleyan Christian Academy. The two men were leading a group of students on a mission trip. The team was enjoying a day off in Ochos Rios, Jamaica, where the accident occurred. Coates was hospitalized overnight with a suspected concussion. Members of the team were nearby and began CPR immediately, doing everything they could to resuscitate Rickman. He died on the way to the hospital.

“It was clearly a moment that God put in motion to call him home. That’s what it was,” said Tim Rickman, Lee’s father and principal of Wesleyan Christian Academy. “As a Christian, there aren’t accidents. There are times that God speaks to us, and, at that moment, God called Lee home.”

“Lee loved the Lord and he wanted everybody else to love the Lord. You weren’t around Lee very long that you didn’t see that,” said his mother, Patti Rickman, Wesleyan Christian Academy’s development and admissions assistant and alumni coordinator.

The team is expected to arrive back in North Carolina on Monday.

Wesleyan Christian Academy is a private Christian school affiliated with First Wesleyan Church in High Point, N.C.

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  • Visitation: Saturday,June 20, 6pm-8pm, Wesleyan Christian Academy Fine Arts Auditorium/Chapel
  • Celebration Of Life Service: Sunday, June 21, 2:30 PM, First Wesleyan Church, High Point, N.C.