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Drowning victim Cameron Nelson loved art, dancing and helping local churches

Posted at 1:37 PM, Jun 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-27 20:36:56-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Tennessee State University student, who drowned, will be remembered for his creative art skills, love of dance, and his faith.

Cameron Nelson, 21, of Memphis was cliff jumping at Percy Priest Lake on June 21st with church friends when he struggled to stay above water.

Officials said his friends were unable to rescue him, so they called 911. Divers found Nelson submerged about 36 feet below the lake's surface at 9 p.m. that evening.

Hannah McClendon who attends Greater Nashville Church first met Nelson at a Bible group.

"We have this Bible talk we have every Monday and I just started coming out, he started coming out. I got baptized, he got baptized. He was one of my biggest supporters, he's like a little brother," McClendon said.

McClendon was at church the night of the drowning waiting for Nelson and his friends to arrive for a prayer night. She said after learning of the accident she started praying for a miracle.

"I've been pretty numb, it doesn't feel real. It's kind of hard because you know once the semester starts he's not going to be with us and he was just a kind, sweet person. He just loved God so much with all of his heart. He was very opened about a lot of things. He never tried to hide a lot of things. He was a very goofy person. I'm going to miss his laugh his voice. I'm going to miss seeing him on campus," she said.

McClendon said since the incident, her church family has been very supportive.

"Every night, a different couple at our church has had dinner available for the college students. Last night, they had a time when we could just go and talk to somebody if we needed to," she said.

McClendon is asking others not to swim alone while out on the water this summer.

"If you do get tired, don't panic. Please don't panic because that's one of the things he did. It kind of puts a lot of stress on your body when you have to keep treading water and you keep panicking," she said.

A funeral will be held on Saturday for Nelson in Memphis.