Deceased child victim named in tubing accident
PRINCE GEORGE, VA (WTVR) – The family of the 10-year-old boy that died in a tubing accident over the weekend at Lake Lanier privately grieves the loss of their son, Grayson Austin.
Austin was well known at Walton Elementary School in Prince George, and his death has devastated many.
“Grayson was a kind, spirit-filled, lovable young man that was also very intelligent,” said Mattie Thweatt, Principal at Walton Elementary.
Thweatt said that as word of the tragedy spread, her phone was flooded with calls from families and faculty at Walton.
When students return to class in the fall, grief counseling will be available at the school for those who need it. But for now, Thweatt wants the community to pull together to help the family and the community through this loss.
“We’re just in praying with them to give them the strength they need to get through this,” said Thweatt. “We’re all in this together, and we’re here for them.”
“Not just today, but in the future as well,” she added.
Another young boy was injured in the tubing accident, and he remains in critical care at VCU Medical Center.
According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, three parents of the victims were inside the 19-foot boat that towed the two boys. The day took a dramatic turn as the tube hit an obscure object in the water.
Lake Lanier, also known as Butterworth Pond, is a small 33-acre body of water, surrounded by a few private homes, including the home of one of the victims.
“The boat made a turn in which it forced the tube into a partially submerged tree and then ejected both of the tubers, or children riding on the tubes, into the woods,” confirmed Lee Walker with The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
An eyewitness told CBS 6 it was a frantic scene as both families tried to render aid to the boys and called for help.
Prince George Fire and EMS, Virginia State Police and The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries all responded to the scene off Lanier Road.
Grayson Austin was pronounced dead at the hospital. Paramedics attempted to have the 9-year old transported by helicopter to VCU Medical Center, but were unable because of weather conditions. He was taken by ambulance instead.
Both families are members of Christ & Grace Episcopal Church in Petersburg and are well known in the community.
On Sunday afternoon, Emporia native and NASCAR driver Elliott Sadler publically dedicated his NASCAR win to the Austin family.
“We needed this win, we’re racing with very heavy hearts today,” said Sadler, going on to describe the situation as “….friends had some of the worst tragedy I’ve ever heard of in my life.”
“This race is for them,” he added.
A memorial service for Grayson Austin will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Christ & Grace Episcopal Church.
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Prince George, VA (WTVR) – The family of the 10 year old boy that died in a tubing accident over the weekend at Lake Lanier is privately grieving the loss of their son. For those who knew Grayson Austin from his days at Walton Elementary School in Prince George, the devastation of their loss is beyond words.
“Grayson was a kind, spirit-filled, lovable young man that was also very intelligent,” says Mattie Thweatt, Princpal at Walton Elementary.
Thweatt says as word of the tradgey spread, her phone was flooded with calls from families and faculty at Walton.
When students return to class in the fall, grief counseuling will be available at the school for those who need it. But for now, Thweatt wants the community to pull together to help the family and the community through this loss.
“We’re just in praying with them to give them the strength they need to get through this,” says Thweatt. “We’re all in this together, and we’re here for them. Not just today, but in the future as well.”