“He lived the same way he died,” Kim Massey said of her brother-in-law, 59-year-old David Massey. He drowned on Thursday trying to save the life of his 12-year-old nephew, Najee Clark, who also drowned. Clark had scaled an 8-foot fence around a neighbor’s back yard pool in the 9200 block of Fairhaven Avenue in Upper Marlboro, Md.
Clark went into the pool’s deep end. Other children out playing saw that Clark was in trouble and alerted Massey, who went in after him. Neither surfaced, and when the fire department arrived, neither had a pulse. Both were pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
"Najee would come by with his brothers and sisters often,” Kim Massey said. She said that he and his uncle David were virtually inseparable.
“Najee was a very helpful child. Though he was mischievous, he was helpful,” she said. “He and David had a special bond.”
Neighbors recalled seeing the two together often out walking a family dog or doing things together in the yard.
They also remembered Massey as a man who helped others shovel snow, or who took it upon himself to move their trash cans back into their driveways after the trash truck made its weekly pickups.
“He always thought about helping other people,” said David Massey’s brother, Collel. It came as no surprise to him that his brother would try and save a drowning child, knowing he himself could not swim. “A child was in the water, it could’ve been anybody’s child, he risked his life to jump in and get him,” Collel Massey said.
Another brother, Raymond, said, “I know that the way he always lived was the way he went out, honorably.”
Now, amid the double tragedy, the family faces yet another crisis: paying for two funerals. Najee is the middle child among 10, and his uncle David could no longer afford insurance after he was laid off from his job and his unemployment benefits lapsed.
“We weren’t ready for this tragedy,” Kim Massey said.
A local church has stepped in to try to help. Restoration Worship Temple in Clinton, Md., is setting up a fund to help the family with funeral expenses. The family asks that any donations be sent to the church, which is located at 7929 Old Branch Avenue, Clinton, Md. 20735. Donations can be made care of the Massey Fund. Restoration Worship Temple can be reached by telephone at (301) 877-3333.