Neighbors react to drowning of 7-year-old boy

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

THOMSON, Ga (WRDW) -- The Thomson community is coping with the pain of losing seven year old Jeremiah Kalume. Most of the neighbors were out yesterday trying to help find this little boy.

Jeremiah was autistic, which may have caused him to wander. He was found in a pond less than a mile away from his home a little after six o'clock yesterday evening. Responders attempted CPR at the scene and later at the hospital, but it was too late. Most of their neighbors were out yesterday trying to help find this little boy.

The police cars have left this stretch of road in Thomson. But now a community is trying to heal after several hours of searching resulted in a tragic discovery.

Pat Morgan with the GBI said, "Unfortunately the child was located, but he did die. And its just a tragic incident that took place."

Jeremiah Kalume is a quadruplet. News 12 first introduced to the Kalume family in 2007 when they brought their children to their Warren county home. They were born to a surrogate mother in California. He, along with two of his brothers, are autistic.

Joseph Hudson has lived down the street from the Kalume family for a little over a year. He says this isn't the first time he's seen Jeremiah wander off.

Hudson said, "There was another time when he had wandered off and they found him back there over past Highway 17 he was running with the cows or so they say."

This time police believe Jeremiah made his way from his family's home around 3:30 Wednesday afternoon on Perdue Circle. They believe he made his way across Wrens highway to the pond where they found him less than than hours later. Neighbors think that Jeremiah went through a culvert which comes out on the other side of that busy highway.

People from the community Joined the search efforts to locate this young boy, but it was too late.

Morgan said, "not just investigators, even people in the community were trying hard to find him."

Hudson was among those searching for Jeremiah. He said, "It's sad and I just wish I could have done more."

Neighbors knew the boy had a tendency to wander, and tried to keep an eye out for him. Still they are in shock over the situation.

Hudson said, "I would have never thought this would happen again. And this time something terrible happened."

Now, the GBI and McDuffie police want to know how this little boy was able to make his way so far. Lots and questions and so far very few answers. The GBI will get the autopsy results later this evening. They hope the results may shine some light on what happened.

Jeremiah's mother has shared her story of coping with her children's autism and her hopes of keeping them from wandering. She started a kickstarter campaign on the website IndieGoGo to raise money for a fence to help prevent her children from wandering. That campaign has raised over two thousand dollars in just the past few hours, in hopes something like this can be prevented in the future for Jeremiah's two autistic brothers.

This isn't the first time the community has rallied around the Kalume family either. When Jeremiah's mother had a stroke in 2009, students from GRU presented the family with over two thousand dollars to try to help them out.

Jeremiah's mom posted a message on Facebook saying in part: "I have been inundated with calls and well wishes and appreciate the love immensely, but I am exhausted and trying to focus on the others for now."

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