Monroe river site of teen’s drowning

By Jeff Clark/Monroe Journal

BIGBEE – A Tuesday afternoon swimming expedition turned tragic for a Verona teenager.

Tavaris Lashawn Shelton, 15, drowned while swimming in the Tombigbee River in north Monroe County. Shelton, of 5138 Raymond Ave., was swimming near the Bigbee Community.

“We received the call at 3:23 p.m. Tuesday that Shelton disappeared while swimming under the bridge on Highway 6,” Monroe County Coroner Alan Gurley said. “He was apparently wading in the water and he got into some deeper water and drowned.”

Rescuers searched for the teen and found him around 7 p.m. Gurley ruled the cause of death accidental drowning.

Shelton was swimming with three other children under the supervision of an adult. According to family at the scene, the adult had what is believed to be a panic attack and was taken to Gilmore Memorial Medical Center in Amory. Her condition is unknown.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Brent Swan said rescuers acted swiftly searching for Shelton’s body.

“The Monroe County Dive Team was there almost immediately after the call came in,” Swan said. “We were also assisted by the Amory Police Department, Hatley Fire and Rescue and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Representatives from the Department of Wildlife actually recovered the body.”

Belle Funeral Home is charge of arrangements for Shelton.

Shelton’s death marks the second accidental drowning death in Monroe County in almost a month. Smithville’s Taylor Smith, 14, drowned May 15 while swimming with friends in the Buttahatchie River. His body was found a week later.

Itawamba Dive Team member David Sheffield, 44, of Dorsey, was aiding in Smith’s recovery effort when he returned to the surface and complained of shortness of breath. He was transported to Pioneer Community Hospital in Aberdeen where he was pronounced dead. His autopsy is still pending.

Click video to hear audio