News Column

Mother of child, 9, who nearly drowned at water park seeks answers

August 19, 2014

By Junious Smith III, The Free Press, Kinston, N.C.



Aug. 19--GREENVILLE -- One week later, Jasmine Williams is still waiting for answers on the near-drowning of her son.

Nine-year-old Jaekwon Williams, who visited the Lions Water Adventure Park with a group from the Rocky Mount Williford Summer Camp on Aug. 11, was found unconscious in the bottom of a 7-foot deep lap pool during the trip.

Williams, who couldn't swim, had CPR performed on him by lifeguards and then was taken to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. The child, who was going to attend fourth grade at Baskerville Elementary, has been in a coma since the injury and doctors at the hospital are fearful he may have permanent brain damage.

Jasmine Williams, along with her lawyer Tom Taft, held a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the Taft, Taft and Haigler office to answer questions about the incident.

Williams, who had her four other children -- two sons and two daughters -- on the trip with Jaekwon as well, said she got a call around 1:30 p.m. at her home when the incident occurred.

"Someone from the camp called me and said there was an accident with one of my sons," she said. "After the call, I went straight to Vidant and when I got there, I saw all of these doctors and nurses working on my son. He's been in pools before, but had never swam in his life."

Williams, who was visibly shaken during the conference, said she has been at Vidant since the accident and hasn't been able to speak with her other children, who are in Rocky Mount with their grandmother.

She said the process has been difficult.

"I haven't slept much," she said. "It's hard to leave his side because I don't want anything to change when I'm gone. I just want to know what happened."

Taft said there are no current plans to file a lawsuit, and he is searching for additional information.

"We've filed a Freedom of Information request and made calls," Taft said. "A lack of information does nothing but exacerbate a situation, and we hope information is forthcoming. We've gotten in touch with law enforcement, and sometimes they've said they'll talk to us later and other times we've left voicemails. We're just trying to be patient, and will continue to ask questions while looking for cooperation. We've visited the scene on a few occasions and asked for surveillance tapes from the time of the accident, but haven't been able to talk to anyone."

Taft offered his condolences to the family.

"Ms. Williams and her family have suffered a horrible tragedy," he said. "It's not clear if (Jaekwon) will recover or be in that condition for the rest of his life. Only time and prayer can tell."

Kinston Department of Public Safety Director Bill Johnson is still the only official authorized to speak to the media about the incident. Johnson said he hadn't heard from Williams, her lawyer or had any additional developments brought to his attention.

Junious Smith III can be reached at 252-559-1077 and Junious.Smith@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JuniousSmithIII.

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(c)2014 The Free Press (Kinston, N.C.)

Visit The Free Press (Kinston, N.C.) at www.kinston.com

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Source: Kinston Free Press (NC)


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