City mourns death of Parks director Jason O ’Brien

The City of Abbeville remained in shock Wednesday after learning of the death of Parks and Recreation Director Jason O’Brien.

A passerby found O’Brien unresponsive in A.A. Comeaux Park Monday morning. O’Brien, 27, was rushed to Abbeville General Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Cause of death remained unknown as of Wednesday afternoon, pending results of an autopsy.

Funeral services are also pending. Kinchen Funeral Home-C. M. Butler Funeral Chapel of Abbeville is in charge of funeral arrangements.

“It is a real tragedy,” Abbeville Mayor Mark Piazza said Wednesday morning. “Unfortunately, it’s not the first one that has occurred this year. We lost Mr. Carbett Duhon, and right after that we lost a long-time employee, Brenda Sonnier.

“This is the third death in the Abbeville Family that has occurred in the last six months.”

Duhon served as an Abbeville City Councilman for more than 20 years. Sonnier worked in the public works department. O’Brien, a former Abbeville High and Northwestern State football standout, took over the city’s parks and recreation in the summer of 2010.

“Jason was very well-liked by all of the employees here,” Piazza said. “He was really just a great guy. You would see him on a daily basis and he always had a friendly, warm smile on his face.

“He was just a good individual to be around.”

Rob Roy, president of the Vermilion Football League, which operates under the Abbeville Parks and Recreation Department, said O’Brien worked with one thing in mind.

“He was a good guy and a hard-working kid,” Roy said. “He was trying to do what was right for the kids. He was always looking out for the kids.

“It’s going to be hard to replace someone like that.”

As for the situation of finding a replacement for the Parks and Recreation director, Piazza said that is not on anyone’s mind.

“Not even,” Piazza said Wednesday. “I spoke to one of the councilman briefly this morning.

“We are completely at a loss.”

A decision will come at the appropriate time, according to Piazza.

The city council named O’Brien as the first director in years when it made the decision to re-vamp the parks and rec department. Piazza said, after 18 months on the job, O’brien had things going in the right direction.

“He worked well with the kids and got along well with the parents,” Piazza said. “He really was doing a good job with the program. We were well satisfied with his work ethic and performance.

“He really was doing a good job.”

Piazza said O’Brien will certainly be missed.

“Jason was a great individual and a real asset to the city,” Piazza said. “He pioneered Abbeville’s newly formed recreation department with enthusiasm and a real love for athletics and the kids.

“He will be sadly missed by his friends, co-workers and family.”

According to Roy, donations can be made at Bank Of Abbeville, either at the Abbeville or Maurice branches. Checks should be made payable to Vermilion Football League Inc., Jason O’brien Memorial Fund, to help with funeral arrangements.

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