Body of New Albany teen recovered off Costa Rica

Authorities in Costa Rica recovered the body of 17-year-old Marshaun Braxton of New Albany Tuesday morning – ending a nearly two-day search for him after he was carried out to sea off the country’s Pacific Coast Sunday evening.

Marshaun Braxton of New Albany, a member of First United Methodist Church’s youth group, was in the country as part of a youth mission trip.  According to Interim Sr. Pastor Jerry Beam, superintendent of the New Albany District of the United Methodist Church, Braxton and three other youth fell into the water after a being hit by a large wave.

“Several of the team members had decided to take a walk Sunday evening and were standing on some rocks on the Pacific coast looking out to sea,” Beam said.  “Four of them fell into the water and three of them have been rescued.”

Even though the others tried to hang on to Braxton and despite his ability to swim, he was unable to fight the current.

Under the guidance of United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, the 15-member team left New Albany Saturday morning for Costa Rica – their destination being the town of Villa Brinceno.  The mission team, made of high school students and adult chaperones, were set to work with the “Jesu Christo es el Senior church”.  As part of their mission, they were to help with the construction of part of a gym for a retreat center and construction of a new sanctuary for the church.

Braxton’s grandmother and legal guardian Elnora Howell, said that he had raised the $1,500 needed to pay his way for the trip through his job at the Movie Reel.

“He was an all-out nice person,” Howell said.  “He was obedient and was a loving person.  He was a happy person, one that could make you smile at any time.”

Braxton’s father, Tim Colyer, agreed.

“He was just a great kid,” Colyer said.  “He’ll be missed.”

Braxton has three older sisters and one younger brother.

Mike Beam, owner and manager of the Movie Reel, said that Braxton had been a good employee over the past two years in his job as concession worker.

“He had a great work ethic,” Beam said. “All of the other employees liked him very much. He was a good kid.”

Besides his work and heavy involvement in church activities, Braxton has also been a straight-A student at New Albany High School, where he was set to be a senior next school year.  He was a member of the high school football team, ran track, was a member of the high school’s debate team, step team and chorus.  Howell said that he also volunteered his time to be a tutor for other students.

New Albany High School Principal Jay Foster said that Braxton was the model student.

“He’s a good kid who stayed out of trouble,” Foster said.  “I only met his grandmother once, which is a sign that he’s a good student.”

New Albany High School’s girls’ basketball coach John Stroud said Braxton served as manager for him two years ago when he was the coaching the boys’ team.

“There’s a lot of work involved with that job,” Stroud said. “He was respected, good and trustworthy. He was the kind of person you could look to, and everyone knew him.”

New Albany Football Coach Ron Price was set to talk to the team Tuesday morning about Braxton.

“The seniors are taking it tough, but we’re all trying to stick together,” Price said. “I told them yesterday and this morning that we’re at the crossroads, but Marshaun would not want us to lay down, he would want us to pull through. We will dedicate this season to him and hopefully we can have a season that he will be proud of. We’ve lost a great athlete and a great person.”

Ministers with the First Baptist Church of New Albany had offered encouragement and prayers to members of the First United Methodist Church Monday.

“Another pastor and I had gone over there to offer our prayers and encouragement,” said First Baptist Church Youth and Children Pastor Paul Sizemore.  “There was a group of teenagers that had gathered in their youth suite and we were asked by one of the ministers there to help lead them in an encouragement time and prayer time.  Marshaun was just well-liked by many of the youth there; it’s just going to be a difficult time for them.”

Rev. Beam said that a majority of Braxton’s fellow mission team members would be returning to the U.S. on Tuesday, while Rev. Amanda Gordon and her husband were set to stay behind to help with the search.