Reports: UK student's body washes ashore after drowning in Israel

Published: Jul. 30, 2018 at 1:59 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2018 at 5:33 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The body of a student from the University of Kentucky who was studying abroad in the Middle East was found early Monday, according to reports.

TeNiya Elnora Jones, a sophomore, was swimming on Saturday in the Mediterranean Sea with two other students. Jones, 19, who is from Fort Myers, Florida, was studying in a summer program focusing on Arabic language.

One of the students swimming with Jones said they were pulled out to sea after being caught up in a strong current. The other two students made it back to the shoreline, but Jones did not. Her body washed ashore in Tel Aviv, Israel, according to the Times Of Israel website.

Israeli officials had initiated a massive search-and-rescue effort once students called them.

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Family members confirmed the tragedy to the Fort Myers News Press, the daily newspaper in the family's hometown.

One of Jones' professors at UK said stood out as an insightful student.

"She constantly exceeded any expectation placed in front of her," assistant professor DaMaris Hill said. "She is a leader among her peers and contributed greatly to the intellectual discussions in our course."

UK's president, Eli Capilouto, issued the following statement about the tragedy, which includes resources for grieving students and staff:

"On Saturday evening, one of our University of Kentucky students, TeNiya Elnora Jones, was involved in a swimming accident in Tel Aviv, Israel.

We have been in constant contact with TeNiya's family throughout the last 48 hours; and we are working to put them in route to Tel Aviv as soon as possible so they can make whatever decisions are necessary. One of our dedicated staff members will be in Israel to assist the family in the days ahead.

We also are in regular contact with our other students who remain in the Middle East as part of this study abroad experience. They are safe; and we are providing resources as they try to come to terms with what they are experiencing.

We pray that TeNiya's family finds light in this darkness. We pray, too, for comfort and healing for our other students.

I am so grateful for the unyielding effort and tireless compassion of our UK International Center team; and the many other members of our community who went to work Saturday evening when we first received word that TeNiya was missing and have stayed vigilant throughout.

As you process this event and other episodes of uncertainty and sadness, seek the comfort of friends and the advice of professionals. To that end, please know there are resources and caring people on our campus, ready and equipped to help you with all that you are feeling and experiencing.

Students are encouraged to call the UK Counseling Center (UKCC) at  859-257-8701 or walk-in 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The UKCC Welcome Desk is located at 106 Frazee Hall, on Administration Drive just past Barker Hall and adjacent to the Student Center.

Please ask to speak to the Daytime On-Call Clinician (or DOC) and note that you have experienced a recent loss. After-hours phone consultation is available by dialing 829-257-8701  and pressing '1' at the prompt. UKCC clinicians will also meet with classes or other groups upon request.

Additionally, faculty and staff may call UKCC for a consult, or seek support from the Work+Life Connections office, where there are two outstanding clinicians, Ann Bassoni and Rhonda Henry. That number is 859.257.8763.

They are here for you. We all are. Their work and their compassion are powerful signals of the fact that at UK, we all are in this together."

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