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Tubing accident leaves one child dead, one injured

PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va. (WTVR)–Several people in the Petersburg, Dinwiddie and Prince George Community said they are devastated by the tubing death of a 10-year old boy, and the serious injury of his 9-year old friend.

JT Morrison Funeral Home confirmed they are handling funeral arrangements for Grayson Payne Austin, a rising fifth grader at Walton Elementary School, who was killed around 8 p.m. Saturday evening on Lake Lanier in Prince George County.

The 9-year old victim remains in critical condition at VCU Medical Center, after undergoing emergency surgery Saturday night.

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 tells 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.