Photo Taken Minutes Before Tragedy Strikes Family Outing
LifeAspire Staff 6/26/2017
Any time spent together with family is special, but for Malik William of Galesburg, Illinois, it was going to be an extraordinary day when he decided to take his high-school sweetheart Heather, and their two kids to the beautiful Ben Butterworth Park in Moline, which is about a 45-minute drive from their hometown.
The park, which is situated along the beautiful Mississippi River, covers over 50 acres with miles of trails and playgrounds, making it an ideal setting to spend the day.
For Heather who had just given birth to their second child Joziah two weeks prior to this road trip, the change in scenery was certainly a welcoming sight.
So while Malik and their 6-year-old son Jaden hung out fishing by the river, Heather stepped away for a few minutes to feed the infant in the car. Minutes later, she heard Malik screaming Jaden's name and she knew something had gone terribly wrong.
When Heather reached the scene as quickly as possible, she saw that Jaden had fallen in the water, and without hesitation Malik had jumped behind to get their son to safety.
The Mississippi river which had looked so peaceful just minutes before, had now essentially become a devestating trap for her son and the love of her life!
Van Thang, a park patron nearby, happened to be close enough and recalls the unexpected incident thusly:
"The lady was screaming 'Help me!' so I just heard it and get out of the car and got in the water and I saw the little boy, and I swam to him. I saw the other one, but the water was too deep. I was afraid I was going to drown too, so I just got out of the water. The boy couldn't talk. There was a lot of water in his mouth, so I just grabbed him and gave him to my friend and they took him out."
Van's presence that evening was certainly a godsend for Jaden! But for Malik, the river eventually proved fatal. The river current was too strong for Malik who eventually drowned in the waters.
Rescue and Molina Police were called immediately, who took on the search for Malik's body all the while making sure that Van and Jaden were out of danger.
How such a beautiful day could end with such tragic news is something Heather couldn't wrap her thoughts around. During this chaos, a surprise came from another park patron named Riley Gomez, a 16-year-old who was playing around with her camera just minutes before the incident.
Riley happened to notice the father and son hanging out by the river and thought the moment was so serene and sweet, that she decided to take a picture of the two without them noticing. This picture literally ended up being the last picture of Malik alive, being happy and doing what he loved!
Riley provided that photo to Heather after finding out what had happened and recalls how bitter sweet the moment felt:
"It's really sad. But I'm glad I can give his family one last thing to remember him by. One of his favorite things to do was fishing. So to have that last moment, to capture that - I'm just happy I could give them this gift."
For Heather, the picture will prove a lifelong memory that she will treasure!
Malik Williams and his girlfriend Heather Holmes had set out for an evening of fishing with their two children, not knowing what lied ahead. Malik's passing certainly was the worst surprise that anyone could have predicted. For Heather, knowing that he lost his life while trying to save their son will perhaps be the silver lining to carry her on.
Sources: Today, WQAD, FB Image Credit: Facebook/Moline Police Department