Support pours in after 16-year-old drowns in Henrico pool

Support pours in after 16-year-old drowns in Henrico pool
A young child held a poster Sunday saying she "will not bully others." (Source: NBC12)

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - In Henrico, just 24 hours after family and friends say 16-year-old Vernard Morton was bullied into a pool where he later drowned, the community is stepping up in a big way.

Emotions are still raw for Angie Morton.

"I mean, I just can't go to sleep; I'm just thinking about him," Morton said. "I'm just going through it really bad."

Morton said she's still reeling from the loss of her son Vernard, who she says was bullied into going into the deep end of the pool at White Oak Apartments Friday afternoon.

Vernard drowned and was pronounced dead early Saturday morning.

"Vernard was an innocent child all he wanted to do is have friends," Morton said. "All he wanted was some love for other people."

She says the 16-year-old was the victim of constant bullying at Highland Springs high school, and now she just wants support during this difficult time.

Thankfully, she's getting just that in the form of honking horns and anti-bully posters from complete and total strangers.

Amanda Shelton was one of those strangers holding up posters urging drivers passing by to honk to put an end to bullying.

"Someone has to be a voice for this family; someone has to be willing to come fourth and say enough is enough," Shelton said.

Shelton said she's been the victim of bullying in the past and is heartbroken that bullying played a part in the death of someone so young.

"This is totally unacceptable, and it shouldn't be happening we need to teach our children how to lead with love," Shelton said. "I am here as an advocate for any child who ever had to go through anything,"

But the support isn't stopping there.

Lolita Epps is a mental-health therapist with family life services. Epps heard about Vernard's death and felt compelled to help out in any way she could.

"I was on my way to church this morning - I felt the Lord was speaking to me," Epps said.

So Epps called her friend Floyd Dabney Jr. owner of Dabney Funeral Home in Ashland.

"I'm in the business of providing closure for families in their time of loss," Dabney said. "My heart goes out to the family and anything I can do with my services, I'm willing to do."

Together Epps and Dabney wanted to take care Angie's funeral expenses. NBC12 broke the news to Morton Sunday afternoon.

In tears from all the supporters, Morton thanked everyone who helped her.

"Thank you so much, whoever it was thank you," Morton said. "I needed that."

Angie knows it may be a long time before this pain goes away, but the support she's getting now is helping her find closure.

"I'm not going to feel better, but I feel that my son is happy," Morton said. "He'd love this news."

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