Jason Moran’s classmate wasn’t surprised to hear that he was willing to risk his life for a friend.
A.J. Barr played football and ran track with Moran in middle school. He remembers the 17-year-old, who would have been a senior at Franklin Community High School this fall, as someone who was always motivated and was constantly helping and encouraging the people around him.
On Sunday, Barr stood under an overcast sky and stared at the Big Blue River dam. Moran, 17, died there after he and three other teens followed a friend, Sarah McLevish, who was swept over the dam. Michael Chadbourne and McLevish, both 16, remained in critical condition on Sunday evening at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.
Barr and others who knew Moran remember that he was passionate and driven in anything he did and was loyal to his friends.
“That’s just the mentality of Jason,” Barr said. “If someone needed help, he was there. And I appreciate what he did. He gave his life to save a life.”
Barr wasn’t one of Moran’s best friends, but the pair kept in touch once they reached high school and occasionally talked about going fishing together. Those fishing trips never happened, which Barr now regrets.
When Barr played football with Moran in middle school, Moran would constantly rally the team, regardless of what the score was. Even if the team was down 24 points, Moran would encourage his teammates and make them believe they could still come back and win the game, Barr said.
Moran was a linebacker for Franklin last fall, and while he was skilled on the field, he was also one of the first people who would congratulate a teammate following a good play, Franklin football coach Adam Reese said.
Barr also remembers football games where Moran would congratulate players from other teams if they had a good game.
“He was always just looking at the positives, not the negatives,” Barr said. “For some reason, God wanted Jason by his side.”
Franklin student Aubrey Curry knew Moran since elementary school. He and friends Chadbourne, Trent Crabb and Mark Nally often rode their bikes to meet up with Curry and other friends for basketball games, bonfires or anything else they could think to do outside.
Moran was funny and outgoing, but he was also committed to being the best and whatever he did, Curry said.
“Jason doesn’t like to give up on anything,” Curry said.
“He just likes to keep fighting for what he can.”