CLINTON COUNTY, Mo. -- “He touched so many people, he was so many people's friend,” Jalisa Jordan said with a smile. “I’m going to miss my baby.”
Her son, 13 year old Jayion Harris-Jordan drowned at the Clinton Lake Spillway Thursday night. Twelve hours later, search crews found his body, near Outlet Park, on the east side of Clinton Lake. The Jordan family had gone to the area to play in the water with friends as a way to escape the heat wave.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s office told FOX4 that, on July 18, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released water from Clinton Lake into the spillway. The Jordan family didn’t know that.
Jayion Harris-Jordan was the oldest of five boys, wore glasses, and had a big smile - just like his mother. Jalisa said he was happy to play in the water that night. She was nearby, listening to music, watching her younger children and talking with friends.
“It was just a good time. And that’s the last time I seen him,” she said.
“He’s out there jumping around, playing with his brother. Right before it happened, my son came up to me and said, ‘Mom, Jayion let me go. He said he was going to show me something, and he just let go.’”
Now, it is Jalisa who is letting go. She looks back on videos she has with Jayion. In some, she’s laughing and he’s trying to ignore her. In others, he’s reciting poetry from a podium in front of a crowd.
Jalisa still smiles when she says her son’s name. She said she is not focusing on how or why she lost her first-born.
“It worked out how it was supposed to. And I have those moments,” she said, gesturing to her phone with the videos, “because he was such a special kid.”
She wore a red basketball jersey. It has the words “Called to Greatness” across the front. It was Jayion’s.
“God said this was his greatness, this was his calling,” she said, reflecting on her faith. “His calling was to touch all these people and touch all these people who needed to be touched.”
He played basketball for two years. He was excited to play football in middle school this fall. He was active in their church. He wanted to act, he wanted to rap and he wanted to be friends with everyone.
“No, he didn’t make it to college or anything else, but he lived a full life at 13, and I think that’s why everyone’s tearing up. We think of all these things we have planned out for ourselves,” she said.
Jalisa held a piece of paper with Jayion’s writing on it.
"This was something that he wrote awhile ago," she said.
She read out loud: “I want God to work with me on relationships, with old friends and be respectful. And also helping others. And also not being afraid of doing what I know I can do with my skills.”
Jalisa said Jayion always wanted to make her proud. Now, she hopes to carry on the memory of her son so that he would be proud of her.
“We need to mend relationships, we need to learn forgiveness, we need to learn what love is,” she said. “That was Jayion. That was my baby.”
Jalisa said she has other children to think about, and she must be strong for them. She said it is difficult, especially because her 10-year-old son blames himself for not holding onto his brother’s hand.
On Saturday afternoon, cars of people came to the spillway to see the water coming from Clinton Lake and coursing into the canal. Red Danger signs dotted the area around the spillway, warning people not to swim due to fast, rising water.
The Jordan family was a few hundred yards away from where the water was rushing out of the lake. Just two days after the drowning, the shouts of children and the splash of water could be heard through the trees by Outlet Park, a short distance away from where Jayion’s body was found.