Valdosta family thanks rescue workers

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - By Jade Bulecza - bio | email

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -  The family of the Valdosta teen who drowned while duck hunting last month is grateful to the many volunteers who helped search for him.

Thursday, the family of James Eunice will host a dinner for all the rescue workers and volunteers who didn't give up until they recovered the 17 year old's body.

The Eunice family wants to give back to those who spent countless hours searching  for 17-year old James Eunice at Ocean Pond.

"We feel it's the least we can do to try to give back and try to help raise funds for those who mean so much," said his father John L. Eunice.

The family is hosting a dinner Thursday night for the volunteers and the search and rescue teams.

"The love they had for us and for James this is to us a very small gesture of what they did for us," said his mother Tammy Allbritton Eunice.

It's also a kick off for the Dive Rescue Fund for the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office and fire departments.  More divers could've got in the waters if they had dry suits.

"Lowndes County guys could not physically get in the water because of the coldness," said diver Dave Stone and owner of Southern Ocean Sports.  "There's no way possible because they would go hypothermic in 15 to 20 minutes."

There were 10-15 divers at in the water at any given time.  As divers searched the pond they constantly feel through the grass that's about six to seven feet tall.

"It is almost like Spanish moss," said Stone. "It's thick and has sediment in it so when you touch it it clouds up you get no visibility whatsoever.

The suits also protects divers.  Dave Stone trains divers and volunteered in the search for Eunice.

I wanted to get an idea of what it feels like to wear a dry suit. It's an effort just to suit up.  It takes 15 hours of training to wear the suit, not only that but when you get in the water you have to wear 30 pounds of weight.

The goal is to raise $100,000 that'll pay for dry suits and equipment for 30 divers.

"People all over the country have gotten to know him through this story and what he (James) stood for we're just so proud of him," said Tammy Allbritton Eunice.

"People want to know more about James and this is a part to keep his legacy alive," said John L. Eunice.

And with upgraded equipment in the event of another search and rescue or recovery mission in the 65 miles of rivers and 30 to 40 pounds, rescue workers will be better prepared.

Any extra money raised will go towards the James Eunice Scholarship fund.

Any and all donations are appreciated.

Checks should be made to "The James Eunice Charity Fund" with a memo that reads "Divers Fund." Checks can be mailed to:

Community Foundation of South Georgia

P.O. Box 2654

Thomasville, Georgia 31799

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