GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A community is in mourning after a nine-year-old girl tragically drowned in Gulfport Sunday.
According to family and witnesses, Ke’Mirah Jefferson was playing ball with a friend, when the ball went over the fence behind the Ashton Park apartment complex and into Turkey Creek.
Family, friends and neighbors all said that Ke’Myrah, who was known to many by the nickname Cupcake, was a fun-loving girl who liked to play basketball and football. Her family is at a loss.
“I just want everybody to know she was a good big sister, and I’m gonna miss her," said Ke’Myrah’s little sister Kerious Unique, breaking down into tears.
Ke’Myrah died just yards from her home after falling into a creek. Her friend Kelvin Thompson said he tried to reach her but when he couldn’t he ran for help.
“I had jumped in and tried to grab her. I was going to drag her by her hand,” said Thompson. “I was going to get on the sticks the same way I got out. That would have been the same way she would’ve got out.”
Ke’Myrah left a lasting impression on little sister Unique.
“She always protected me and made sure I didn’t get bullied, and she told me a lot of things that I did, what I needed to do and how I need to do my life,” she explained.
Ke’Myrah’s mother, Shykela Bingham is still trying to figure out how to move on without her first-born.
“This was my oldest child. I had her when I was young.Ya know, we grew up together,” Bingham said. “I mean, there’s nothing that nobody can tell me to make me feel no type of way because that was my baby.”
Some of the neighbors said the fence blocking the creek has been broken for years, and this morning, the property maintenance staff secured the gate with a lock.
Bingham says she didn’t know that danger was so close to where her children played.
“I’ve been living here since June of last year and not once have I ever seen this fence back here. Not once did I ever k
now there was a lake, a creek whatever it is. I never knew any of that was back there until yesterday when my daughter drowned,” she said.
Other residents at the complex worried that the lack of maintenance on the property could have contributed to Ke’Myrah’s death. Repeated attempts to contact property management about the condition of the fence have gone unanswered.