Jamal Oliver stood before a gaggle of TV cameras and reporters near in Bolingbrook and uttered two words that no parent should ever have to say about his child: She was.
The father of , who drowned in a pond at near her school Tuesday evening, called a press conference Wednesday afternoon in an effort to place focus on how his daughter lived, rather than on .
Speaking in a quiet voice, barely audible above the rumbling of TV news trucks idling nearby, Oliver stood before a bank of microphones with his head slightly bowed. Tall in stature but bent by grief, Jordan’s father spoke proudly of his daughter’s character.
“She was a born leader,” he said. “She was bright, inquisitive, proud … she loved playing outside.”
Oliver said that although over the years he has helped coach all four of his children in basketball, there was something extra special about his youngest child, Jordan.
“She was the one who always made me want to go to practice,” Oliver said. “She always put a smile on my face.”
Oliver thanked members of the community, representatives of the school district and village, neighbors and his family’s church, Liberty Temple, whom he said have reached out to him and his family as they struggle to make sense of the tragedy that has befallen them.
But he also made a plea for an end to some of the speculation that has sometimes surrounded his daughter’s death, asking the community to give his family, as well as Jordan’s friends, room to grieve.
“The girls who were with her (when she died) are good girls,” Oliver said. “We are heartbroken for them.”
Oliver said his family is in the process of making funeral arrangements for Jordan, whom he said “loved life.”
“She lit up everything,” he said. “It was impossible not to love her. She touched many in the community.”
Jordan Oliver was a fifth-grader at Pioneer, where crisis counseling teams will continue to be on hand for students and staff.
According to Bolingbrook Police Lt. Michael Rompa, police determined Jordan was among a group of approximately six boys and girls who were "bridge jumping" at the pond in Indian Chase Meadows on Tuesday, entering the bridge on the outside of the handrail and jumping into the water.
"Jordan completed the jump from the bridge into the water on her first attempt and was able to return to the shore," Rompa said. "On her second attempt, she came back up from the water above the surface after the jump, but then descended into the water and did not resurface."
Rompa said the incident remains under investigation.