Family remembers victims of weekend drowning in Kanawha River

Family members left flowers and candles at the site of a weekend drowning in the Kanawha River...
Family members left flowers and candles at the site of a weekend drowning in the Kanawha River on Monday, June 20, 2022.
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 6:27 PM EDT
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DUNBAR, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Flowers, cross and candles in tow, Jaionte Waller and Lawrence Foye returned Monday to the Shawnee Park Boat Ramp.

It marked the first time they made the trip down to the Kanawha River since the early hours of Saturday, a day meant to be filled with memories of family fun.

“We were having a fishing night, we were having a bonfire and we were just fishing,” recalled 11-year-old Waller.

The night, however, took a somber turn.

The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office said Waller and Foye’s 6-year-old cousin Deonco Howard and 31-year-old aunt Michelle Godsey drowned in the river.

The agency said Godsey and her five nephews were spending time night fishing, the first time for many of the boys.

“I feel heartbroken because I was just with [Deonco] and I just called him on the phone a couple of days ago,” Waller said.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Howard had knocked Godsey’s parked SUV into gear and into the river.

Godsey got Howard out of the car but both ultimately drowned.

The boys believe they will remember their cousin full of life and joy.

“Jumping on the trampoline, doing backflips at his house, he liked to go to the pool, jump, play games and stuff,” Foye said.

“He was with all of us and he had family,” Waller added. “I’ll remember him being happy.”

Hoping Howard’s spirit will live on with them.

“It feels like he’s here with us and I can hear his voice in my head,” Waller said. “I’ll miss him everyday.”

For previous coverage:

Woman killed during tragic incident was wanted by police

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