'He was my beautiful baby': Mother mourns son who died on Georgia lake

The sudden death of a local college student home for the holiday weekend is an unbelievable shock to his family in Gwinnett County.

SUWANEE, Ga. -- In Georgia, another family is grieving on this holiday weekend.

Bailey O'Shields, the 21-year-old college student who died on Lake Lanier on Friday will be buried later this week.  His family said the young man had a seizure while jet skiing and died before anyone could help.

O'Shields came home for the holiday weekend from Florida to visit his mom and brother in Suwanee, Georgia. He had plans to see his old friends and visit other family members in the area. But sadly, when those loved-ones get to see him this week, it'll be at his funeral.

“He was my beautiful baby,” Stephanie O’Shields said. “He was just like that little cherub - always smiling.”

Stephanie always said her son Bailey was her oxygen. So, when he died Friday, it was as if the air had been sucked out of the room.

“I couldn't breathe, didn't know what to do,” she said. “And I just knew that life as we knew it would never be the same.”

Hours earlier, Stephanie had been catching up and laughing with her 21-year-old son. He hung out with the dogs then hugged her before leaving to jet ski on Lake Lanier

“He said, ‘I'm going to run to the lake and just probably hang out for a couple of hours, I'll be back and you and I can go have dinner’,” she said of her last words to him.

But Bailey never surfaced. At 6:30 p.m., his brother texted him -- no response. At 7:15 p.m., mom called and a Gwinnett County police officer answered.

“When they told me they found him, I just sat down on the ground and I was just lost,” she said.

Bailey's jet ski had been found circling by itself near the east boat ramp - his life vest still tethered to it. Divers later recovered his body about 35 feet away.

“I believe that he was coming into the dock to get off and tied off - to go get his car and when he took the vest off, a seizure hit him,” she said.

There are no words to describe a mother's pain as she plans her youngest son's funeral.

“I did get to see him,” she said. “I kissed his face and told him how much I loved him and that I was sorry I wasn't there to help him.”

But Shields is finding some comfort in the fact that her baby boy died doing what he loved.

"He absolutely loved the water. That was his happy place,” she said. “He was a good soul.”

A soul and a smiling face she’ll never forget.

“I know that Bailey is definitely going to be one of the most amazing angels that have ever gone to heaven.”

Bailey was born with a condition called arterial ventricular malformation which affects speech, motor skills and sometimes causes seizures. Doctors at Emory hospital told the family that many people that have it don't have any idea.

So, in lieu of flowers, the family is asking people to make a donation in Bailey's name to Emory hospital for research and to raise awareness of that condition.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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