The day after 6-year-old Jerimiah Melton’s body was pulled from the Chattahoochee, his parents came back down to the river Wednesday to thank the community.
Ciera Melton and Mingo Henderson were surrounded by family and friends as they stood a few hundred yards from where the boy fell into water Sunday evening.
An intensive Columbus Fire and Emergency Medical Service search started shortly after 7 p.m. and concluded Tuesday morning about 8 when the body was recovered more than eight miles downriver.
The grieving mother struggled to get her words out.
“No parent should have to bury their child,” Melton said. “But I am going to stand here today because I know my baby would say thank you. I just want to thank everybody who came out and helped find my baby. I thank you for all the love and support. All the prayers.”
Henderson thanked the city and all of the restaurants, including Chick-fil-A, Krystal and Country’s, and groups that supported the family during the search.
“Continue to pray for us and hold us up in prayer that God continues to wrap us and make us strong,” Henderson said. “All we need is love and prayer right now. … Keep his mother, lift her up in prayer. I know I am the father but she needs it, as well as I know. Keep your arms and love stretched out to her. Thank you.”
The boy lived in Dothan, Alabama, but his family is located both Dothan and Columbus. Jerimiah was with relatives near the final rapid on the Chattahoochee whitewater course. Authorities say he was on a rock when he reached down to touch the water, slipped and fell in.