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Mother of drowning victim: “Tell your kids you love them”

By Jessica Coates

jessica.coates@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — In the last year, Essence Smith Whitney has dealt with incredible loss. Last November, her 4-month-old son, Jayceion Whitney, passed away due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.

Then, on July 12, her 19-year-old son TaeJone Jamoneyea Williams went swimming at High Rock Lake and drowned.

“(Williams) was a good kid,” Whitney said. “He was a lovable kid; he cracked jokes a lot. He would roast people.”

Williams was a 2016 graduate of North Rowan High School. Whitney said that his hobbies included basketball and swimming.

Contrary to what authorities told the Post for a previous article, Whitney said that Williams was a good swimmer.

“He knew how to swim military style,” Whitney said. “My brother was in the military for eight years and, when he got back, he taught him how to swim. So he learned at age 3.”

The reason for Williams’ drowning is not yet known.

Whitney said that Williams had gone to swim at High Rock Lake before but that she had always been there with him.

She said that she found out about her son’s death when she went to visit her mother’s house July 12.

“The day it happened, when I pulled up they were there — the sheriff,” Whitney said.

Whitney said that, after what she has experienced, she wants people to appreciate what they have.

“Just tell your kids that you love them because you never know when it will be the last time,” she said.

Whitney has created a GoFundMe page to help her raise the $5,000 needed to pay for Williams’ funeral. She said that, should anyone feel moved to help her family, donations of prepared food and money would be accepted at her mother’s house — 821 East Lafayette St.

She added that, if people would not feel comfortable doing that, they could bring financial donations to Noble and Kelsey Funeral Home.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.

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