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Family remembers teen who died while kayaking near Sanibel

Posted at 10:20 PM, May 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-13 10:26:48-04

SANIBEL, Fla. — Yolanda Jenkins remembers her son William Jenkins, known by his family as Willie. He died in a kayaking accident around 11:00 p.m. Saturday night at Sanibel Causeway.

“This was a Mother’s Day for me never to forget who my son was and what an incredible soul he was,” said Jenkins.

Jenkins went to Fort Myers High School. His brother Cody Jenkins said Willie inspired him with his fearless attitude.

“He may have been the youngest, be he was the toughest, that’s for sure,” he said.

His brothers said he got the nickname “Willie-Can” for his courage. His parents said that shined through until he took his last breath.

Mom and dad, Ted Jenkins said they warned Willie not to go kayaking Saturday, because he had recently been diagnosed with epilepsy.

“Him and the friend that he went with promised that he would not kayak,” said Mrs. Jenkins.

And Mr. Jenkins said after several unanswered calls, he got a gut feeling.

"I knew something was wrong. Absolutely I did," he said.

According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a good Samaritan named Brandon noticed Jenkins hadn’t come back for a while. That’s when he jumped on his kayak to find him. He discovered Jenkins had a seizure while on the water. Brandon brought him back to shore where others gave him CPR.

“They did everything they could for my son. Not only on the beach, but at Golisano’s,” said Mrs. Jenkins.

He later died at the hospital. His mom said she’s at peace knowing he’s with God.

“He wanted a nice young soul. And now we have angels that are going to be with us forever,” she said.

FWC emphasized the importance of boat safety. Next week is National Boat Safety week. Here's a list of ways to practice boat safety.