Mother of drowned 3-year-old boy still trying to understand what happened

Local News

Three days after her son’s death, Eletha Whitlock is still trying to put the pieces together into what happened.

“I don’t understand how an adult can leave five children in a pool and let my son get in the deep end and pass away,” says Whitlock, speaking to 6 On Your Side News from her home in Chattanooga. “I would have never thought that one of my kids would leave before me.”

Her son, 3-year-old Raymond Whitlock, better known as Jupiter, died Saturday after police reports state he and three other children were left unattended at an indoor hotel pool in West Knoxville. Whitlock was not with her son that day, as he was with family acquaintances.

“Children cannot watch children,” stresses Whitlock. “He was only 3. He will never go to kindergarten, he won’t ever get to have a girlfriend, he won’t ever get to have kids, drive a car. He got deprived of all of that because this one adult decided to leave the kids in the pool and tell them to stay in the 2-foot end.. and nobody was over the age of six.”

The drowning is the third at the Quality Inn and Suites off Cedar Bluff, the last coming in 2017.

     Related | 3-year-old boy is 3rd death in Knoxville hotel pool in 4 years

However, despite the hotel and the pool’s history, Whitlock says the blame lies elsewhere.

“In the pool, whether it was the nanny, a family friend, whoever it was, if they paid attention, it says ‘swim at your own risk.’ There’s no lifeguard there. So, I couldn’t even get mad at the hotel because it’s not their fault.”

As for funeral services, Whitlock tells 6 On Your Side that plans will be made once Jupiter’s body is released by the medical examiner’s office.

Once that is done, he will be brought back to Chattanooga.

In the meantime, Whitlock says she wants answers and hopes whoever left her child alone will be prosecuted.

“I loved him. He was loved. I loved him with all my heart and soul, and it breaks my heart knowing that the next time I see my son, he will be in a casket.” 

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