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Drowning tragedy shook an entire community Wednesday

There will be an investigation and there will be a finding of fact. But, for now, this is not a time to cast blame. It is a time to mourn and heal.

Wednesday, tragedy struck as an 8-year-old boy, taking part in a summer camp at the Junius Ward Johnson YMCA in Vicksburg, drowned.

The best life-saving efforts of lifeguards at the pool, emergency medical officials who quickly responded, and personnel at Merit Health River Region’s emergency room were to no avail. A life — a very young life — was tragically lost.

Any loss of life is sad, but there is something more emotional, more tragic when it is a young life that was just beginning.

As a community, we were shocked and saddened Wednesday. Every parent who heard the news sought to squeeze their children a little tighter Wednesday evening.

And those emotions came from those who did not know the young man, those who are not related to him. Just imagine the hurt and pain his family is suffering.

Today we stand by them in their loss, praying for their emotional healing at a time when they must feel as if their world has completely crumbled.

Today we also stand with and pray for the staff and administration at the Junius Ward Johnson YMCA. They, too, are suffering emotionally and feeling the hurt of this loss.

At the Junius Ward Johnson Y, making sure all children and adults are safe in the pool is a top priority. Our entire Y family is deeply saddened by this situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the young man and his family,” the facility said in a statement Wednesday evening. 

Vicksburg and Warren County have been beyond blessed by the people and programs that have long been a part of the YMCA. It and its programs are a part of our community’s foundation from which many lives have been built.

The tragic loss of life Wednesday reverberated throughout our community, but this community has a passion and a power many do not. This community will undoubtedly wrap its arms around this young man’s family in their time of need, just as it will undoubtedly wrap its arms around the YMCA family.

No, today is not a day to cast blame. Today is a day to pray for understanding when we do not understand why, and for healing those hearts that are so desperately hurting.