Former Chesterfield teacher drowns in Swift Creek Reservoir

Posted at 6:22 PM, Jun 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-28 18:22:42-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Tributes poured in for former Chesterfield County middle school teacher McDaniel Rucker IV after police recovered Rucker's body from Swift Creek Reservoir Tuesday night. Rucker, according to witnesses, fell into the water off a boat Sunday evening.

Among those remembering Rucker were his former students.

"Phenomenal," Jon Harrington said of the man he called "Mr. Rucker" even as an adult.

He said Rucker was his history teacher in the early 2000s at Robious Middle School.

"His first words were just reassuring and encouraging because he wanted the best for myself and the other students that were in my class."

"I'm hoping he's at peace and I continue to pray for his family and his wife."

Harrington said history was a difficult class for him, but said Harrington made it fun.

"He was a good jokester, also. He would always have us laughing. He would teach us lessons within those moments, also. So, even though he might have been being funny, he was also teaching us a lesson. He didn't want anyone to feel that he was being hard on them in any way. He wanted the best for you. And he wanted you to truly enjoy life as it comes to you. And just to remember to work hard," said Harrington, who added Rucker help used humor to teach him the importance of being prompt. "He would joke with me about being on time and making sure that I understood the importance of being on time. He would always let me come in the classroom, you know, even if I was a little bit late, but he would always make sure I remember the importance of being on time to not just his class, but any class. And I remember those moments of him really being a true mentor for all of us in that way."

And Harrington said Rucker's mentorship continued beyond that one history class as the two stayed in touch through high school, Harrington attending Rucker's alma mater of the University of Richmond, and as Harrington hit milestones in life.

Social media posts and comments about Rucker were filled with praise from those that knew him, including former students like Harrington and he said it is a testament to Rucker's character as a teacher and a person.

"He was a teacher that just didn't come into the building to teach. He came into the building to teach. But he also came to be an example and lead us into who we are today," he added. "I keep in touch with many of the students that I went to school with. And he's one of the main teachers that we bring up and discuss is how positive he was for all of us."

Fire and rescue crews previously told CBS 6 that a family member was on a boat with Rucker Sunday night and attempted to recover him from the water, but was unsuccessful.

Chesterfield County Fire and EMS Captain Joe Harvey

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