JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A family is asking for help paying for funeral costs after the accidental drowning death of 12-year-old Adrian Thomas.
Adrian Thomas, or JR as his family called him, was a loving, playful, and smart kid. Thomas was autistic but his cousin, Sharnese Johnson, says that didn’t stop him.
“He was never picture shot. You know, you showed him a camera, you say cheese and he was right there. In the photos. He was just an overall great here," Johnson, said.
“Although he was nonverbal, functioning autistic. He was such a smart kid. He was learning how to read. He was spell his name, he learned how to spell his name," Johnson, said.
The boy passed away after accidentally falling into a pool and drowning on Saturday May 7th, at an apartment complex in the 1200 block of Dunn Avenue, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. Police say Thomas was found unconscious in the pool by family members after he had been playing in a nearby park.
It is unknown how the child got into the pool area but there was a fence between the park and the pool, according to investigators on scene.
According to the Autism Society of Florida, kids with Autism spectrum disorder “are 160 times more likely to experience nonfatal and fatal drowning than their neurotypical peers.”
The family is planning a homegoing service for Thomas this Saturday but they need help paying for the funeral costs. They are asking for help with the funeral costs, as Thomas' dad just started a new job and is waiting for insurance benefits to kick in.
"“Having a son, your namesake, going through this process with him of trying to teach him and nurture him based upon you know, him being autistic, this has really taken a toll on him," Johnson said. “So imagine a family having lost income for a while, because of a tragedy that has happened. And then having other children that...you also have to make sure they have those things that are needed, in addition too. So we're setting the community to make donations.”
The family is doing a balloon release on Friday at 7:30pm at Ray Green Park. The balloon release will be centered around the color blue to represent autism.
"We are asking the community, especially those who have family members who are autistic, we want to celebrate them as well. We want them to come to know who Jr was, the type of kid that he was and to share our story with them, because that could possibly help them to get through what, you know, whatever they're dealing with," Johnson said.
The homecoming ceremony will be held Sautrday at First Timothy Baptist Church at 11am. The internment will be at Evergreen Cemetery on Saturday, following the services.
Donations can be made by phone to Weston Funeral Home 904-356-9955 (ask for Tracey Oliver) or via Zelle- firstname.lastname@example.org or Zelle phone number 470-258-8114.