Hundreds say goodbye to Foresthill hoops star

20-year-old killed after dive off rock
By: Joyia Emard Gold Country News Service
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Hundreds of friends, family, teammates and classmates attended a candlelight vigil at Foresthill High School Tuesday evening to pay tribute to Pliny Oscar Murphy, 20, who lost his life on Sunday. According to Placer County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Jeffrey Ausnow, Murphy died July 25 after jumping off of some rocks into the water at Camp Far West Lake in Sheridan. “Witnesses on scene reported that Murphy had climbed to a height of approximately 40 feet above the water and dove into the reservoir,” Ausnow said. Murphy graduated from Foresthill in 2009 and was a force on the school’s basketball team. He is remembered by family and friends for his bright smile and outgoing personality. Jana Thornsberry, of Loomis, is Murphy’s aunt. “He was an all-around great kid,” she said. “He had a million and one friends.” Thornsberry said Murphy’s parents, Pliny and Gina, moved the family from Foresthill to Penryn about a year ago. She said recently, Murphy had worked with his father as a welder. Murphy is survived by five younger brothers. They are Phillip, 17; twins Avery and Samuel, 12; Levi, 8; and Nehemia, 4. Three of the boys attend Penryn Elementary School. “Pliny was wonderful. He lived life to the fullest. He was always looking out for his younger brothers,” Thornsberry said. She said she most enjoyed watching Pliny race motocross, a sport her nephew loved. “He always wanted to go for it all,” she said. Aaron Cook, of Foresthill, was one of Murphy’s best friends and basketball teammates. He said Murphy loved music and would rap and sing rhythm and blues and heavy metal. “Pliny was the craziest kid I ever knew. He was a daredevil. He’d try anything,” Cook said. “What I’ll remember most about him is that he made me laugh. He made me happy every day. He always made all of his family and friends feel loved.” According to Cook, on the day he died, members of the Murphy family were spending the day at Camp Far West Lake and Pliny Murphy and others had jumped off the rocks numerous times. He said Murphy’s last dive went wrong and he landed on his face and stomach. Murphy’s mother said she does not want his friends and family to remember the way her son died, but rather that he lived life to the fullest. “Pliny had a strong belief in the Lord and knew that death is not a tragedy. He believed there is more than this life. He’s given all of us a new spirit and new way to live our lives,” Gina Murphy said. Nate Swesey coached Murphy his senior year on the varsity basketball team. He remembers him as the best player on the team and said he was voted second team, all league. “Pliny had a great personality. He was really competitive on the team. He had a funny little smirk that made you smile,” Swesey said. Donations to aid the Murphy family can be made by calling the Foresthill Wells Fargo Bank at (530) 367-2284. Gina Murphy said the family is in the process of planning a celebration of her son’s life, but details are not final. Reach Joyia Emard at