Tomari Aliijah Jackson, a Georgia high school freshman, mysteriously drowned in shallow water on a school trip to Belize. The merit student and Boy Scout died just a few days before his 15th birthday.
A group of six chaperones and 32 students from North Cobb High School in Cobb County went to Belize on a school field trip. Just a few hours after landing and putting away their suitcases, Tomari Jackson and his peers visited the Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Georgia high school group took a hike together, and Tomari Aliijah Jackson was last seen splashing around in shallow water near the riverbank after the hike. The freshman was found and declared dead later the same day on Saturday, the Daily Mail reports.
Adell Forbes, the Georgia teenager’s grieving mother, stated during an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the shocking death of her only child and the details surrounding the mysterious death do not make any sense. Forbes said that not only was her son an accomplished Boy Scout, he was a good swimmer who had spent a lot of time outdoors.
My sincerest condolences go out to the family and friends of Tomari Jackson. RIP kind heart. pic.twitter.com/XkwDaqV8L4
— Shayla Hunter (@trlhunter4) February 16, 2016
“I wasn’t concerned about his safety,” the distraught mother said when referencing her faith in the school chaperones to keep her son and the other children safe during the week-long field trip to Belize. “Once they told me what had happened, there was nothing else.”
Her biggest worries as her son departed on the trip he was so excited about involved concerns that Tomari would remember to take his vitamins and use plenty of mosquito spray.
Forbes told the local newspaper that she received a phone call U.S. Embassy in Belize that her son had gone missing. How a student was able to go unnoticed by the six school chaperones, or how long he was gone before any of the adults realized they were short one of their charges, remains unknown.
Adell was preparing to leave for the airport to fly to Belize when a second phone call from the embassy brought the tragic news that Tomari was found dead.
The field trip to Belize came to an abrupt end and all of the students and staff returned back to North Cobb High School on Monday – six days ahead of their planned arrival back in Georgia. The teen’s body is not expected to be returned to the United States until Friday at the earliest.
Adell Forbes is hopeful that someone in the group who went on the Belie field trip will step up and tell her what happened at the animal sanctuary that led to the death of her son. The one question Forbes wants an answer to first and foremost is why her son was not missed for so long, “until after the fact.”
The mother said that Tomari lived in the Bahamas for three years when he was a toddler, and he was very excited about taking the trip. The Bahamas is Forbes’ native land. She added that her son was very mature for his age and loved being outdoors enjoying the views and truly appreciated the beauty of nature.
Schools administrators described Tomari Aliijah Jackson as an exceptional student who played the flute in the band. His friends said that although he was very serious about his academic studies, he also had a great sense of humor.
The North Cobb School for International Studies, a magnet school on the North Cobb High campus, took the same planned field trip to Belize last year without incident.
[Images via Shutterstock]