FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The mother of Fort Wayne sports star and former NFL player James Hardy is speaking out for the first time since his body was pulled from the Maumee River.
Jeanie Summerville reported him missing on May 30, a week before a water filtration worker found his body caught in a logjam. Summerville spoke exclusively with NewsChannel 15 about the days leading up to Hardy’s disappearance and the last time she saw him alive.
Hardy was a well-known name in sports around Fort Wayne. He was a basketball and football standout at Elmhurst High School before graduating in 2004. He went on to be a wide receiver at Indiana University before being drafted to the Buffalo Bills in 2008. Hardy also played for the Ravens but injuries cut his career short. He was released in 2011.
Summerville said Hardy had only been back in Fort Wayne for three weeks before he went missing. The last time she saw him alive was on May 25. A day later, May 26, his car was found on Spy Run Avenue, not far from where his body was found. Summerville said the last time they spoke, Hardy said he needed to get out of Fort Wayne. He told her if he didn’t leave the city he would die.
“He says, ‘Mom I’ve got to leave, I’ve got to get out of town,'” said Summerville. “I said ‘Why, where are you going?’ And he says, ‘I’ve got to go. If I don’t go, I’m going to die tonight.’ Those were his words.”
Hardy’s body was found floating in the Maumee River, June 7.
“I hoped that he was just talking,” she said. “[I hoped] that it really wasn’t going to come true. But it did.”
When Summerville saw reports that a body was found in the river, she feared it was Hardy’s. She said she does not know why he would have been near the river, but added that he does know how to swim. The next day she got the call from the Allen County Coroner’s office.
“I was hoping that it wasn’t,” she said. “I was praying that it wasn’t. I got a call from the coroner and I didn’t answer it. Once I calmed myself down I played the recording.”
Although Summerville was concerned for Hardy’s safety she decided it was best to keep his disappearance quiet.
“If it’s all over the TV he would come and say, ‘mom, why would you do that? Here I am.’ So I didn’t want to take that chance,” said Summerville.
The coroner hasn’t released the official cause and manner of death. Summerville said she does not know what could have happened to him. She said she only finds peace in knowing that her son’s body has been found and comfort that she knows he is with God.
“He’s in good hands,” said Summerville. “At least now I know where my baby is. I know where he’s at. He’s not missing anymore.”