Investigators seek public’s help in golfer’s death

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HELENSBURG, Scotland – Investigators in the suspicious fire that killed Georgia Southern golfer Thomas Sharkey and his 8-year-old sister have appealed to residents of this waterfront town for answers.

Sharkey, 21, who would have been a redshirt sophomore this fall, died early July 24 and his sister was pronounced dead later at a hospital in nearby Paisley. Their parents, Thomas Sr., 55, and Angela, 46, were seriously injured and remain hospitalized in serious but stable condition.

The family was asleep in the home, investigators said, adding that Thomas Sr. sounded the alarm. The parents have been told of their children’s deaths, investigators said.

In a news conference, Detective Inspector Anne McKercher said her 50-person team is going door to door in search of information about the blaze, which she said was deliberately set.

“A family has been left devastated,” McKercher said, “and they are doing their best to try and come to terms with what has happened.”

Autopsy results were pending.

Georgia Southern coach Larry Mays said a memorial service will be held when students return to the Statesboro school next month for the fall term. He added that the team is certain to play its season with a visible remembrance of Sharkey, who played in seven tournaments last year, with a tie for 32nd at the Schenkel Invitational in March as his best finish.

Margaret McKechnie, Angela Sharkey’s sister and the aunt to Thomas and Bridget, said the family has been left “shattered, devastated and angry.”

In a statement Thursday at the Helensburgh police office, McKechnie also talked about what golf meant to her nephew.

“Golf was Thomas’ life, and all his family and friends aspired to be as good as he was,” she said. “His smile lit up every room, and he always found the best in everyone he met.

“We always thought he would be famous for his golf and not for the tragic way he died.”

-- The BBC contributed

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