HINESVILLE, Ga., (WSAV) — The community of Hinesville is coming together to celebrate the life of a little boy taken too young. 3-year-old Ayiden James Quilter was found in a pond just yards away from his home. It was incredibly hard for such a tight knit community to hold it together at tonight’s vigil.
News 3 was invited to the vigil but asked not to bring cameras. But after receiving approval the emotion was present in every word and on every face. News 3 had a chance to speak to one neighbor who did not know the family or Ayiden personally; but jumped on board to help with the search as soon as she found out he was missing.
“I strapped my son to my back and we walked around the neighborhood i guess for about an hour and a half,” Brittany Slaymaker says while having her infant strapped her her back just like she did Saturday.
Ayiden was found in a pond in his Governors Quarter community. According to neighbors he was outside playing just yards away from his home. Hinesville Police and Fire Department were called to the scene and neighbors tagged along. Shortly after, the dive team was brought in after speculation that he may have fallen into one of the neighborhood pounds.
Slaymaker told News 3 one resident attempted to search the pond herself when she was first told it wasn’t deep enough for him to fall in.
After their search was complete everyone’s worst fear became confirmed. “When they pulled him out everyone literally just broke down. You could just hear the silence between everyone. Iit was like the world stopped,” Slaymaker said. “It could’ve been my son. It could’ve been any of these kids in the neighborhood.”
Community, family, friends, strangers, and colleagues gathered to honor Aiyden and console his family with candles, prayers, balloons and songs. The burden of sorrow is now a little more easy to bear with the help of support from friends families and even caring strangers .
Slaymaker says “anything they need. I know it’s going to be hard for them to want to reach out so I feel we have to reach out to them.”
Funeral arrangements are expected to be made later this week. For now the family wants their time to grieve. We will keep you updated.