Mom claims teen who drowned in pool was bullied, pushed in
HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A teen boy has died, after police say he was found unconscious in a pool at a Henrico apartment complex.
It happened around 5:30 p.m. Friday, at the 11 North at White Oak Apartments.
When crews arrived, they found the teen in the swimming pool.
He was transported to VCU Medical Center, where he died at 4 a.m. Saturday morning.
The boy's mother, Angie Morton, posted on Facebook, mourning her son's death, claiming he was bullied:
"I'm going to miss waking him up in the morning for school, miss him talking. I'm going to miss him watching TV with me, playing the games," said Angie Morton.
Vernard Morton was going into his junior year at Highland Springs High School. According to Angie Morton, he was teased and pushed into the deep end by almost a dozen boys who pretended to be his friend.
Angie Morton says her son had a learning disability and was often bullied.
"They bullied him, because he was different than other people," said Angie Morton.
Around 3 p.m. on Friday, Angie Morton says Vernard got a call from a girl, telling him to head over to the 11 North at White Oak Apartments, where she and some other friends were hanging out.
"He just wanted friends, and he figured if they hanging with me, maybe they'll be my friend," said Angie Morton.
According to Angie Morton, almost immediately after he got there is when the incident happened. He was allegedly pushed into the deep end, hit his head, then sunk underwater.
Angie Morton says the pool was packed with people - but no one helped her child.
"My son was at the bottom of the pool for over three minutes, and they looked at him and was like 'oh, he playing,'" said Angie Morton.
Angie Morton says police arrived at her house around 5 p.m. to tell her, her son was lifeless and on the way to the hospital.
Angie Morton rushed to be by his side, but Vernard was brain dead. He died Saturday morning.
"My son died because these little boys dared him and forced him into the pool," said Angie Morton. "I think someone killed my son, because they say everyone ran and left my son in the water."
Now, all that Morton has left, are memories of her son and the will to fight to keep his memory alive.
Police say the drowning is being investigated.
Demond Alston has been friends with the 16-year-old victim since middle school.
"He told he loved me and I told him I loved him back," Alston said.
Alston found out about Vernard's death from another friend.
"He was perfect. He was the perfect guy," Alston said.
Alston says Vernard was going to see him Friday evening, but he got a call to got the Pool at White Oak Apartments first.
"He was supposed to meet a friend there, but I guess it was a set up," Alston said.
Alston says that Vernard was constantly bullied.
"People would just laugh at him and try to make fun of him for no reason," Alston said.
Meranda Briggs lives at the apartments. She says she is devastated something like this could happen.
"This is ridiculous and childish. They really weren't his friends, and if you don't like somebody, you don't have to do that," said Briggs. "If you know somebody can't swim, why would you just stand there and watch him die like that?"
The drowning comes less than a month after another pool drowning, at the Chesterfield Village Apartments.
Experts say if you do see someone struggling in the water, jumping in to save them may not be the best idea:
"A lot of people, their first reaction is going to be to try to jump in to help someone. But even if you're a strong swimmer, most likely the panicking person can overpower you and drag you down underwater," says Swift Creek YMCA Aquatics Director Rob Britt.
Here are some tips to follow to stay safe at the pool:
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