14-year-old drowns in St. Marys River

Body of teen pulled from river Friday night, sheriff says

GLEN ST. MARY, Fla. – A 14-year-old boy drowned Friday in the St. Marys River near Glen St. Mary, according to the Baker County Sheriff's Office.

Jacoby Clayton was at St. Marys Shoals Park with a group of friends Friday when he jumped off a rope swing about 4 p.m. and was overtaken by the water, Baker County Sheriff Joey Dobson said.

A woman walking her dog in the area said she heard laughter turn to screams, and she called 911 after hearing children yell that someone was drowning.

“They were laughing and playing and jumping in the water. About 10 minutes later I heard a boy say, 'He's drowning!' So I ran over there to see what was going on,” said the woman, who asked to be identified only as Becky. “I didn't see him anymore, and I ran and got my phone, and I said, 'Guys, I'm calling 911,' and they wanted me to get in the water, and I said, 'I can't. It's too rough.'”

Becky said the current in that area is extremely rough and she has almost drowned in the same current before.

She said Jacoby was trying to stay afloat and fight the current, but it was just too strong.

He went under and bobbed back up, but couldn't stay above the water.

Dobson said the children with Jacoby tried to rescue him, but he didn't come back up.

Divers found Jacoby's body at the bottom of the river after searching for an hour with assistance from the Macclenny Fire Department and Bakery County Fire Rescue. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was also called.

Dobson broke the news to Jacoby's father and aunt and then his mother. Within the hour, dozens of family members showed up at the park to mourn the loss of the Baker County Middle School student.

“(He was) an awesome kid,” Baker County Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson said. “(He was) very polite, very well-mannered, very well-liked by his friends and his teachers, and he's going to be greatly missed.”

Jacoby's father told the sheriff that his son could swim, but only a little.