Mom: Teen shouted ‘I want to be baptized' before drowning

Tristan William WingoPeralta, 19, drowned in St. Augustine golf course pond

By Destiny McKeiver - Multi-media journalist, Erik Avanier - Reporter

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - A 19-year-old boy who was pulled from a pond on a St. Augustine golf course early Wednesday evening died at a hospital, authorities said.

The teen was identified as Tristan William WingoPeralta of St. Johns County.

"He was the most loving, the most caring, the most considerate," Linda WingoPeralta, the teen's mother, told News4Jax. "He was the best thing I've ever known. He was my everything, other than my other two sons."

The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office responded to the drowning, which was reported about 6:15 p.m. at Royal St. Augustine Golf and Country Club, off 4 Mile Road.

Deputies said he was seen parking his car in a nearby lot before heading to the pond. 

According to his mother, witnesses said Tristan shouted, "I want to be baptized" before jumping into the water. 

"He wanted to be baptized. He asked people on the golf course to baptize him," Linda said. "I guess they were playing golf and thought he was just being a kid or whatever and he dove in the lake and they couldn't recover him."

She said Tristan worked at Taco Bell and was an an honor student who graduated from Nease High School three years early. Linda said her son was on the right track, although she noticed a change recently.

"He was just talking complete rhymes, rhythms and craziness constantly," she said. "He wasn't sleeping, not eating." 

Despite the circumstances surrounding her son's death, Linda said, her heart is broken and she will always honor and remember him. She also encouraged teenagers to be open with their parents.

"Talk to your parents. Be honest with them. Tell them everything," she said. 

Tristan's mother said she is not allowed to see her son's body until an autopsy is performed, which could take several days. The family will be working to make funeral arraignments. 

Golfers tried to save teen, witness says

Though a sign reading "no swimming" was posted at the pond, neighbors said, the teen jumped in anyway.

Denise Pratt said she was about to walk out of her house when she noticed something unusual.

"I saw somebody swimming in the pond," Pratt said. "He went down and had not come back up."

Pratt said some nearby golfers jumped in to rescue the teen, but the water was too murky to see. First responders arrived and pulled Tristan out of the water, but paramedics said by then he was in cardiac arrest.

"They immediately started working on him. They got an IV in him to push fluids. Four or five guys were around him trying to resuscitate him," Pratt said.

The 19-year-old was taken to Flagler County Hospital in critical condition and later died at the hospital.

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