Vigil held for Clarks Hill drowning victims

Published: May. 2, 2021 at 11:15 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Hundreds of people gathered at Meadowbrook Park in Augusta on Sunday. It was all for a celebration of life vigil for Eynn Wilson and EJ Kirk who drowned at Clarks Hill Lake last week.

Both of their bodies were recovered yesterday, and their families tell us this vigil is their next step in moving forward.

“Eynn and EJ, they’re both in a better place,” said Eniyah Kirk, EJ’s eldest daughter.

Though it was supposed to be a celebration, the day was still tinged with sadness.

“My grandma, I just— I hurt for her. And the two little ones [his youngest daughters], because they’re growing up without a daddy. They didn’t deserve that either,” said Kirk.

During the release, EJ and Eynn’s moms stood together arm in arm, brought together by tragedy. Their families tell us the experience has made them closer too.

“We just have to get closer as a unit, as a family. To honor EJ’s legacy, and help raise his children, and remind them of how great their father was,” said LaKesha Johnson, EJ’s sister.

The vigil also served as a homecoming, as families have been able to be at peace knowing their loved one’s bodies can be laid to rest after a seven day search.

“This is more of a meaningful celebration because we’re celebrating them coming home,” said LaKesha Johnson.

Throughout the day, both families reflected on life without EJ and Eynn.

“Gotta keep doing what he told me to do, finish school. Stay focused. Take care of my little sisters. You know, that’s the only thing I can do. Is just do what he said,” said Braniya Brown, one of Eynn’s children, through tears.

During the balloon release, colors of red and silver dotted the clouds.

“We’re going to paint the sky red,” said Shellah Thompson, Eynn’s sister.

With each balloon, there was another reminder that life will not be the same.

But some at the vigil say they have faith bigger things are ahead.

“I thank God out of all of it. He’s gonna pull things together, it’s going to wake us up in the community. They’re going to take more things seriously out on the water,” said Deadra Thompson, Eynn’s cousin.

And as these two families move forward through laughs, and through tears-- there’s no denying that both families will be forever intertwined.

Both families tell us they’re grateful for the support they’ve received, as well as the hard work from the dive team.

They say the biggest thing they need moving forward is more prayers.

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