Highland Springs High student drowns in pool: ‘He was underwater for 6 minutes’

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Police are investigating after a Highland Springs High School student drowned in a pool at an East End apartment complex Friday evening.

Family members said 16-year-old Vernard Morton left home Friday afternoon to meet a friend at the pool at the White Oak Apartments.

Loved ones said that the pool was crowded and Vernard ended up in 9 feet of water and possibly hit his head in the process.

“He was underwater for like six minutes without nobody noticing,” Patricia Morton, Vernard’s aunt, said. “After six minutes, that's when they realized that he was not coming back up.”

Family members said a group got Vernard out of the pool and performed CPR.

Police and fire crews were called to the 11 North at the White Oak Apartments on North Laburnum Avenue just before 5:30 p.m. for a medical emergency.

Vernard was transported to VCU Medical Center where he died of his injuries Saturday morning.

Vernard Morton

His family is trying to make sense of the sudden loss.

“That was my first child in the world,” the boy’s father, Venerdo Anert said. “I can't do nothing to get him back. He carried my name. He carried my name.”

Both parents are eager to see what the police investigation yields, but they are also remembering their son with love.

“My son, he would have been going to the 11th grade, but he's in heaven right now,” Angie Morton said.

Morton said her son was an active and caring young man who loved the Redskins, video games and collecting rocks.

"He liked to be with his daddy. He loved his momma, brothers and sisters," Patricia Morton said.

The boy’s father said he is troubled by the absence of lifeguards and security cameras at the pool and at countless other pools like it.

“I know a lot of people that have lost their kids and I mean, I see them hurt. But now, I’m one of them. I'm hurt just like they is. I'm one of them," he said. "Now I feel their pain. I feel what they're going through.”

Morton's mother said her son was looking forward to getting a job soon.

The Henrico Police Investigative Unit is handling the case, but officials said Saturday morning that they had found no evidence of foul play.

This is a developing story. Anyone with more information can submit a news tip here.

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