DOUGLAS COUNTY, GA (WSB/CNN) – A 12-year-old girl in Georgia who drowned trying to save her cousins from the same fate is being called a hero for her effort.
The family of 12-year-old A’Jada McGuire gathered for a reunion Sunday afternoon at a lake near West Point, GA.
Relatives say A’Jada noticed her cousin, 12-year-old Carlton Woodall, and his twin brother struggling in the water, and she jumped in to help before any of the adults.
A’Jada was able to hand one cousin up to her uncle before she and Carlton went under, swept away in the current.
"She was trying to push them both up and above on the safer side, the shallow side, and she was only able to save one,” said Tara Thomas, A’Jada’s mother.
The girl’s parents were at work, but relatives told them about their daughter’s heroic last act.
"I just want her to know that we love her, and she's going to live on forever in our hearts,” Tara Thomas said.
A’Jada had just become a cheerleader and looked forward to taking college prep courses.
"Perfect child, never had a complaint. Anything you asked her to do, she'd do it,” said Isiah Thomas, the girl’s father.
The grieving parents say trips to the lake will never be the same for them and especially for the younger siblings A’Jada leaves behind.
"They don't want to go to an ocean or a lake or anything like that because they witnessed it firsthand,” Tara Thomas said.
The Thomases say they don’t want anyone else to feel their pain and encourage families to make sure children have access to life vests or floaties when they go swimming.
The bodies of A’Jada and her cousin were found by Troup County dive teams and first responders by around 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
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