Vigil held for 8-year-old girl who drowned in Lake Wildwood

alopez@macon.comJune 18, 2014 

Tyasia Jones’ mother remembers a happy and intelligent little girl who made all A’s and B’s.

“You could do nothing ... but love her,” Latosha Wright said.

On Saturday, as soon as Wright and Tyasia, her only daughter, arrived at a birthday party held on the shore of Lake Wildwood in Macon, the 8-year-old asked if she could get in the water.

“You can go,” Wright remembers telling Tyasia. “But don’t go too far. Stay where I can see you.”

After Tyasia spent time swimming in the lake and playing volleyball with friends, Wright lost track of her. She searched all over but couldn’t find her.

It was about 7:30 p.m.

“Next thing you know, they found her in the water,” Wright said.

Emergency responders took Tyasia to The Medical Center of Central Georgia where she was later pronounced dead. As of Wednesday, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office is considering the incident an accidental drowning, said Deputy Linda Howard, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman.

More than 100 people gathered Wednesday night at the lakeshore for a candlelight vigil where dozens from the Lake Wildwood community joined Tyasia’s cousins, aunts and other relatives to remember the little girl’s life. An ordained pastor offered prepared remarks, and someone sang “Amazing Grace” while the crowd held candles aloft.

“We wanted to do something special just to show our love and support to the family,” said pastor Paul Tindell. “We don’t want to remember a tragedy out here in Lake Wildwood. We want to remember the precious memory of a life.”

Ben Gilbert, 18, did not attend the vigil, but he witnessed the scene as emergency workers searched for Tyasia last weekend. He has lived in the gated community all his life and said he can’t recall any other drowning there.

A large sign near the water warns people to swim at their own risk. The clubhouse and beach area close at sunset, and security guards lock the gate that leads there every night.

Gilbert said the community security team does a good job enforcing the rules.

“All it takes is one moment,” Gilbert said, referring to the drowning. “Just one second and you look away...” he said, before trailing off.

To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 256-9751.

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