Boy who saw two friends drown recalls horrific event

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A 12-year-old boy who saw two of his friends drown at a Raleigh lake is being blamed by some for not doing more.

Last week, rescue workers frantically searched for two young teenage boys.  L. Jay Jennings, the only boy to survive, spoke Tuesday about what happened.

"I went over to get Michael so we could play basketball," Jennings said, "and they said they wanted to get on the boat."

The so-called boat was more like a fiberglass box.  After the boys were in the center of the lake, the box began to fill with water.

"I took off my shirt and started swimming to the bank and I turned and Elbert was trying to hold up Michael," Jennings said.

Jennings knew how to swim.  Elbert Hughes, 14, and Michael Houston, 13, did not.

"Elbert was trying to hold Michael on his shoulders," Jennings said.  "He started drowning and Michael was panicking, so he couldn't come up for air."

After swimming back to the shore, Jennings raced to tell one of the boy's mothers, who then called 911.

Jennings appeared guilty.  His mother, Andrea Jennings, said some relatives are not helping him cope.

"They call my baby a murderer," she said.  "I didn't like that.  And then for one of the women to say, 'why didn't he stay and drown too?'  Why would you say that?"

Andrea Jennings believes if her son had chosen to stay instead of try to get help, he too would be dead.

"He could have been there," Andrea Jennings said.  "I was blessed given another chance with him.  We're going to make it."

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