An accident at what should have otherwise been a joyful event at Rockbridge Adventures last week was a painful reminder that bad things can happen to good people. Jonathan Magwood, 28, of Union City remains in the hospital after landing on his head attempting a flip into a foam pit at the indoor facility. His close friends said Thursday that he appears to be paralyzed from the neck down, having broken two vertebrae in his neck.
Magwood was there for an end of season banquet for the 10-year-old Union City Eagle football team, a team he had volunteered to coach for several years. The comments about Magwood from friends and former coworkers were glowing.
“Basically this is the kind of person that you meet once in a lifetime,” said Dwayne Eberhart, who described Magwood as his best friend. “He’s the kind of person you could call at three in the morning. If your pipes were burst, he’d come to assist. He was definitely the kind of person that would help. He was a father figure to a lot of [the kids on the football team], a mentor. All of the kids loved him for his coaching abilities and his personal relationship he had with most of the kids on the team. You couldn’t meet a better guy.”
Magwood is currently employed by CSX Railroad, but formerly worked for Union City, where Parks Director Lee Blitch found him to be incredibly helpful in trying to build up recreation in the city.
“He was tremendous. We just had one ball field. There were no athletic programs. He was instrumental in helping me build that as far as the shaping of the ballfields. He was just a good, handy kind of guy,” Blitch said.
Blitch said there was little he wouldn’t do for the kids on the football team, who know Jonathan as Coach Magwood.
“There’s a couple of kids that were 10 years old on the team he coached. He paid for those kids to play. One of them he took under his wing,” Blitch remembered. “He used to work nights, but that kept him from being at practices, so he changed his shift so he could be with the kids at practice.”
Everyone who spoke to Fayette Newspapers about Magwood mentioned his reliability and generosity.
“Anything I needed, I called him, he did it,” Blitch said.
Fayette County Adminstrator Steve Rapson formerly worked in Union City, where Magwood worked under his management.
“Jonathan Magwood is an incredibly compassionate person. He was our go to guy for any kind of special project we had,” Rapson said.
He noted, as well, that Magwood’s mom is a “super lady.” According to friends, Magwood is single and doesn’t have children of his own, with his primary close family being his mother and brother.
Speaking Thursday, a day after Magwood had gone into surgery for broken vertebrae, Rapson said it was difficult to really put words to his reaction.
“Horrific is the only description I can call for it,” Rapson said. “His mom is kind of like my mom. She was like an adopted grandmother to me. She was just a super, super lady. I’m sure the family is traumatized over this.”
Another associate of Magwood, former Union City Human Resources Manager Tracie McCord, also gushed about his character.
“I’ve been describing him to my friends at work. He’s just one of those kind of guys you could always count on. You could call him at 3 a.m. and he would come help you and never ask for anything back,” McCord said. “He worked in the public works department, I was the HR manager. Jonathan was assigned to city hall to support us in any way, shape, or form. Anything you needed you just call Magwood.”
She said he could even be counted on after he’d stopped working for the city.
“Even when he was gone, he was still there. He was showing up once or twice a week,” McCord said. “It was funny, in a staff meeting they couldn’t get one of the streetlights to reset and they said ‘Call Magwood,’ and he came over and fixed it. He wasn’t even an employee. That’s just the kind of guy he is.”
McCord also echoed Rapson’s comments about his relationship with his mother.
“He loved his momma,” she said. “I can remember as a young woman, my mother telling me you can tell how a man will treat you by the way he treats his momma, and I tell you what, that’s the truth.”
Magwood will likely need to rely on his friends and family in the same way they relied on him as he faces a tough road ahead.
A lunch is planned for Saturday, Dec. 13th between 12-3 p.m. at Ronald Bridges Park, 5285 Lakeside Drive Union City, GA 3029.
Food will be sold at $5 per plate and all profits will be donated to the family.