A fishing trip in central Georgia turned deadly last Saturday night when a father and his 9-year-old daughter, Amelia Whitlock, were ejected into Lake Jackson when the boat they were traveling in overturned, 11 Alive reports.
On January 14, Amelia and her 31-year-old father, Charles, were spending time together fishing on a boat on Lake Jackson near the Turtle Cove area when tragedy struck.
It was reported that an accident occurred, causing the father and the 9-year-old girl to be ejected from the boat and into Lake Jackson.
When the father resurfaced, he searched frantically for his little girl but there was no sign of Amelia – that’s when he reportedly swam to shore and called 911 for help.
Recent reports have indicated that all Charles – who is described as a “loving and amazing father” – did to help his daughter was call for help, but after calling 911, he reportedly went back into the water and didn’t give up on trying to save his little girl.
When the “game warden, who is with the Department of Natural Resources, along with Jasper County and Butts County deputies” arrived at Lake Jackson, they searched the shoreline,” as well as the water using “a remote-operated vehicle” but the rescue team could not find the girl.
The DNR Law Enforcement division’s aviation unit also helped with the search.
According to Mark McKinnon, the DNR Law Enforcement spokesperson, the search came to a poignant end just shortly before 8 p.m. on Monday, January 16, when little Amelia’s body was detected on a sonar just 10-feet below water – not far from where she and her father were ejected into the water.
Circumstances leading up to the boating accident has yet to be determined, but the department’s Critical Incident Reconstruction Team is investigating the case.
James Monroe, a lake view marina manager, — who has lived on Lake Jackson for almost 50 years — stated that the lake’s water may be calm and serene but it doesn’t guarantee the safety of boaters.
He added that “every year, there are a few boat accidents” and “accidents like this, they affect me, and they affect the lake.”
The rescue team took approximately two days to find Amelia’s body in Lake Jackson and because of the time that had passed, Monroe stated that he knew the search team was now focused on recovery.
“As an adult, if I got thrown out of the boat and hit that water at 56 degrees, my first instinct would be to take a deep breath of air.”
“If my head’s underwater, I’ve just filled up both lungs. Then it’s all over with.”
Although the manager was not present during the deadly boating accident, he stated that he hopes “the family, and the lake, finds some peace.”
Following the boating accident, Whitlock’s school released a statement.
“Losing a student is never easy, and we must remember that there are multiple individuals who are affected by this tragedy,” the statement reads. “Please keep everyone in your thoughts during this very difficult time. Our condolences go out to Amelia’s family.”
“As for our students, they will grieve and process the information in their own way, and we will be supportive of them and sensitive to how they will react. Counselors will be on hand to assist our students through this tough time. Encourage your child to speak with an adult at school if they feel the need to do so.”
The Henry County School officials added: “The loss of life is tragic no matter the circumstance, and the loss of a student hits a school community especially hard. Each of our schools are close-knit communities, and those in the Rock Spring Elementary area are grieving at this time.”
On behalf of Whitlock’s family, Mary Ann Godwin, created a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses since the “family was already struggling because of a work injury her dad has and is currently not working and fighting for disability. Also, none of us ever prepare as parents for the journey her parents are now on,” according to the site.
The family is hoping to raise $20,000 in donations, and has thus far garnered $8,518.
A candlelight vigil was held last Tuesday for the Georgia girl who lost her life at Lake Jackson during a fishing trip with her father.
Whitlock was laid to rest today at the Cannon Cleveland Funeral Directors in McDonough, Georgia.
[Featured Image By Sandiegoa/iStock]