UK student missing after swimming accident in Mediterranean
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A University of Kentucky student has been reported missing after a swimming accident while traveling abroad in the Middle East.
University officials said in a news release Sunday it happened this weekend in Tel Aviv, Israel, when three students, including 19-year-old TeNiya Elnora Jones, a UK sophomore from Ft. Myers, Florida, went swimming in the Mediterranean Sea while in Tel Aviv for weekend.
The four students are part of a group of seven UK students, and two students from West Virginia University, based in Amman, Jordan, for the summer for a program focused on Arabic language.
Just after midnight Saturday, three of the students, including Jones, went swimming while one stayed behind at a hotel.
One of the students involved told officials the group got caught in a strong current and were pulled out to sea.
Two of the three students made it back to the shoreline, but Jones did not.
The students contacted Israeli officials and a search and rescue effort was launched.
They also contacted UK Police and the study abroad program's coordinator, the Council on International Exchange (CIEE), which is based in Portland, Maine.
Officials say the U.S. Embassy in Israel has also been alerted to the situation and has been involved throughout search and rescue efforts, staying in contact with Jones' family, CIEE and the university.
Jones' family was contacted and officials are making arrangements for her mother and grandfather to travel to Tel Aviv.
The leader of UK's International Center, which houses the Education Abroad and Exchanges program, Associate Provost Sue Roberts, is also en route to Tel Aviv to meet with officials and Jones' family.
UK President Eli Capilouto released a statement, offering thoughts and prayers to Jones, her family, and students impacted by the situation.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with TeNiya, her family and the students and others impacted. We are in continual contact with Teniya’s family, officials in Israel, officials from the State Department and our Congressional delegation, to provide all the support we can for the family, students and others involved. We will do everything possible to provide whatever support is needed," Capilouto said.
University officials say they are also in contact with the other students in Tel Aviv, who are safe. Arrangements are being made for them to travel back to Amman, Jordan.
The families of the students involved and the students in the program were also made aware of the situation.
The study abroad program began in June and is scheduled to end this week.
Search and rescue efforts are ongoing.
No other information was immediately available. This is a developing story and will be updated.
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