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Vigil Planned To Remember Teen Who Drowned During Church Outing

Reported: May. 19, 2014 11:31 AM EDT
Updated: May. 19, 2014 5:45 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Leslie Rubin) -- Classmates mourn the loss of a Stonewall Jackson Middle School student who drowned Sunday on a church retreat near Ripley.

Shawn Jones Jr., 15, died on Sunday while on a church outing with a group from Emmanuel Baptist Church in Charleston. Today, he is remembered as a sweet, funny, and caring young man who's life was cut much too short.

Jones was a student at Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

"Happy, well-mannered, high spirited, he was always good in school, he helped my daughter in school. He was like a son, he was the type of young man you would want your daughter to bring home," said Sharonda Whitlock. Whitlock is the mother of Jones' girlfriend.

Deputies say Jones was in the lake at Parchment Valley West Virginia Baptist Conference Center near Ripley. They say he was in a kayak with another boy when it filled with water and capsized. The other boy was able to swim to safety. Deputies said Jones was not wearing a life jacket.

It took dive crews several hours to find his body.

Principal Jessica Austin says grief counselors have been on hand to help students struggling with the tragic loss.

"We let them know that it's okay to grieve and it's okay to be sad, and to feel it. We need to deal with whatever emotions we are having right now. That we're going to grieve together as a family, and if we need counselors here all week and beyond, we'll offer the support and assistance that they need," Austin said.

Austin tells Eyewitness News there will be a candlelight vigil at the school on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. to honor Jones.



RIPLEY, W.Va. (Leslie Rubin, Jeff Morris) – Authorities have released the name of a teenager who drowned over the weekend in a Jackson County lake.

Shawn Jones Jr., 15, a student at Stonewall Jackson Middle School in Charleston drowned in the incident Sunday, Jackson County Sheriff Tony Boggs said.

The incident occurred during a group outing of friends. Boggs said two boys were in the water playing late Sunday afternoon, pulling a kayak, when it filled with water.

One of the boys was able to make it out safely, the other did not. Dive teams searched the small lake at Parchment Valley Baptist Retreat Center near Ripley.



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