Family speaks after missing man's body found

Donald Jackson, 35, found submerged in Isuzu Rodeo

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The heartbroken family of the Green Cove Springs man whose body was found in a retention pond last week has begun planning for his memorial service.

Donald Jackson, 35, was missing for five days after he left a wedding in St. Augustine. According to authorities his car may have been involved in a hit and run accident on 4 Mile Road and State Road 16 before it went into the pond. 

Police said Jackson his car was found in a pond on County Road 16 A at Catherine Towers Lane, a route that shocked his family.

News4Jax spoke with Jackson's family Monday evening.

“It's the hardest thing you'll have to go through -- me not being able to see him,” said Jackson's mother, Lynn Arnold. 

Arnold couldn't hold back the tears. In fact, no one at the gathering of his family and friends could do more than cry as they mourned the loss of their son, their cousin, their big brother.

“I just knew he was somewhere out there. I just didn't know where until we found him,” said Arnold. 

Arnold said the family had been searching for her son for days. And many flew in from out of town to help in a family search, not knowing that officials would find the body of Jackson submerged in his black Izuzu Rodeo Friday.

His cousin, Shanna Jackson, said the car was found in an area not on his normal route.

“We question if there's foul play," she said. "Was someone chasing Donald? There's just all these questions in our head. We don't know if something ran out in front of Donald and he swerved. We just have a lot of questions."

They are questions that his little sister feels her big brother may be trying to answer. She said the family went searching on State Road 16 on Friday and they received a sign.

“On our way home from going to the crash site, as soon as we turn on Raven Wood, me and my cousins, we all saw the heart in the sky and I really feel like that's Donald telling us that he loves us and he's OK,” Mandy Arnold said.

Mandy said her  brother loved "Star Wars," Halloween Horror Nights and was always up for helping others any way he could. Those are the memories that this family said will cherish forever.

“I just feel like Donald is trying to give us answers. Not many people get their loved ones back and we found ours,” Shanna Jackson said.

There’s a viewing on Friday for Donald Jackson at Broadus and Raines in Green Cove Springs at 4 to 8.p.m.

The funeral is on Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m. at the same location.

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