Mother remembers 18-month-old son who drowned in Tallapoosa River

Local News

Smiths Station, AL. —  A local mother remembers her 18-month-old son after he drowned in the Tallapoosa River over the weekend.

Police say the unplanned stop to the river turned tragic when water came rushing in from the release of a nearby dam.

Police also say 18-month-old Preston Williams was in the arms of a person who was standing on the rocks when a wave caused Preston to be dropped into the water.

News 3 spoke with his mom, Natasha Williams, as she tries to come to terms with her baby’s death.

Williams was in Tallassee looking for a new home when she, and a few others, took baby Preston on an unplanned detour to cool down at the river.

“It just feels like a really bad nightmare and I feel like I’m going to wake up eventually from it and my baby’s going to be back,” Williams said.

Her baby was being held when the water came rushing in.

“When I jumped in that’s when the water came and I thought I was dead. I was drowning,” Williams said.

Family friend Michael Masters was there to pull her out of the water, but his 17-year-old son, Mikey, was stuck on the rocks holding baby Preston.

“‘I tried everything I could dad. I’m sorry,'” Michael Masters said. “It’s not you, believe me it’s not you. He wished it was him.”

Williams blames herself, but there may have been no way for her to know the danger waiting in the silent river.

“We didn’t hear the siren. Even the detectives everybody said you can’t hear the siren there,” Williams said. “My son may be gone, but I want to turn it into something positive. I really want to save another mother or father from going through this because it’s the worst pain you can ever imagine. I never thought in a million years I would go through this with my baby.”

Williams said she saw a warning sign near an electric box, but she didn’t think the sign was warning against swimming.

Like Williams, Masters and his son are trying to find a way to cope with Preston’s death.

“We never hugged as much, me and Mickey, before this,” he said. “Now it’s like I can’t hug him enough. I can’t tell him enough that I love him.”

While Masters can’t stop hugging his son, Williams will never again have that moment with Preston.

“I don’t want to wake up. I keep thinking he’s going to come to me you know run up to me and give me a hug or something and he’s not there. He’s not,” she said. “I want to give him one more hug and tell him I love and how so sorry I am.”

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