By Kayon Raynor
KINGSTON (Reuters) - High jump star Germaine Mason died in a motorbike crash outside Jamaica's capital early on Thursday, police said, an announcement that prompted tributes to the British Olympic silver medalist from across the world of athletics.
School friend and sprint medalist Michael Frater told Reuters he went to the scene after hearing about the accident, and waited there until an ambulance arrived.
“I’m just devastated at the news, he was a friend from high school days ... still can’t believe this,” said Frater, who once shared an apartment with Jamaican-born Mason in Kingston.
Mason was driving a motorbike on the main road connecting Kingston with Jamaica's international airport at around 4.20 a.m. (0920 GMT), police said.
"He allegedly lost control and fell from the motorcycle. The police were summoned and Mason was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead,” the Jamaica Constabulary Force added in a statement.
Mason died aged 34, still holding the 2.34-metre Jamaican high jump record he set in 2003. He started competing for Britain in 2006 and won silver medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“Devastated by news of the death of @GermaineMasonHJ 2008 Beijing Olympics Silver Medal winner High Jump 2.34m.Jamaican record holder. RIP,” tweeted @MVPTrackClub, headed by Stephen Francis who coached him.
British sprinter James Ellington, who survived a motor cycle crash in Spain in January, tweeted “Can't believe the news I have just heard about Germaine Mason."