Columbia man collapses, dies in Savannah marathon

Published: Nov. 10, 2013 at 10:16 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2013 at 10:16 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A runner in the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah Marathon who died after collapsing in Saturday's race has been identified.

Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police said 35-year-old Jake Zeman, of Columbia, collapsed near the finish line.

Zeman was treated immediately by medical personnel and EMS, and then transported to a hospital where he later died, authorities said.

Zeman's family tells WIS Jake was married and had a 2-year-old son.

They say Zeman had no known medical condition and was in very good shape.

"Our hearts go out to the family and friends," said P.Z. Pearce, medical director of the race. "This is a difficult and tragic situation and we ask everyone to keep this family in their thoughts and prayers."

Neighbor and childhood friend, Brian Young did not know Zeman was running in the marathon, but says he's not surprised.

"In speaking with his father, it was something he enjoyed doing," said Young. "It was something that was a lot of effort and self discipline."

Buddies since high school baseball, Young and Jake started raising their kids together in the same neighborhood.

"If anything ever happened to my family and I called Jake, he would run down here. He would be the first one to come. If anybody every needed anything. He was just a strong, smart guy," said Young.

Young says Zeman was always concerned about others. He and some neighbors have been working to decrease speeding traffic in the community. We're told Zeman had the city install two speed bumps near his house.

"We kind of teamed up and had the same thoughts about a lot of the school traffic going way too fast in the neighborhood that we have that has a lot of children out playing," said neighbor Chantsie LaTorre.

Friends say Jake's legacy will live on: through the neighborhood; the people who knew him; and the kids he worked hard to keep safe.

Zeman's body is in Georgia awaiting an autopsy.

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