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Boy who fell into St. Johns River during fishing trip remembered

Community gathers to say goodbye to 9-year-old Tate Ricks

PALATKA, Fla. – A young boy who loved fishing and boating was the focus of a community-wide farewell Thursday evening in Putnam County.

A still stunned crowd gathered to say goodbye to 9-year-old Tate Ricks.

Young mourners and grownups filed into the Johnson-Overturf Funeral Home in Palatka with heavy hearts.

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Tate will be remembered as a happy little boy. His life was cut short when he was thrown from a boat while on a fishing trip with a family friend Saturday evening in the St. Johns River.

The wake from a larger boat knocked him overboard.

After an extensive 36-hour search, the boy's body was found Monday morning not far from where he disappeared.

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Tate's paternal grandmother, Teresa Stewart, came from Alabama to say goodbye. She said she'll never forget the last time she was with her grandson.

"It was wonderful. We took him fishing, we took him swimming. I'm so happy that I got that last couple of days with him," she said.

Members of the Palatka community came together Monday night for a vigil on a dock of the St. Johns to celebrate Tate's life.

A fellow student of Tate shared her pain with News4Jax.

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"He was really nice and sweet, and I didn't think he would die like that. When I went to the playground today, I started to cry because I missed him a lot," said Willow Skidmore.

"A good boy. He loved to swim, loved to fish -- he loved it, but I know he's in a good place now," Stewart said.

Tate will be buried Saturday afternoon in Rockmart, Georgia.


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