TeNiya Elnora Jones
TeNiya Elnora Jones
Screenshot: ABC News

A University of Kentucky premed student who was spending the summer in Jordan drowned in the Mediterranean Sea this weekend, just days before she was set to return home.


The body of TeNiya Elnora Jones was recovered by authorities on Monday. Two other students who were with her on a beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, said that they went for a midnight swim on Sunday when they were caught up in a strong current and pulled out to sea.

Her companions made it back to shore, but Jones did not.

Jones was reportedly part of a group American studying Arabic in Jordan. The university confirmed that the college sophomore from Fort Myers, Fla., and three other students from her program traveled to Tel Aviv for the weekend.


Jones’ mother, Tosha Thomas-Mora, told the News Press that she had exchanged text messages with her daughter at 3:30 p.m on Saturday (10:30 p.m. Israeli time) where her Jones said she was “in for the night.”

Less than eight hours later she received a call from the Council On International Educational Exchange, the organization which hosted the study abroad program, saying that her daughter was missing.

Thomas-Mora said she later received a call from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, where she was told that Israeli police were still actively searching for her daughter.

Thomas Mora said her daughter was a biology major with a minor in Islamic studies. She said her daughter was an excellent student whose high G.P.A. scored her a spot at Kentucky’s premedical program, which she was supposed to start on August 23.


“Our thoughts and prayers are with TeNiya, her family and the students and others impacted,” said Kentucky President Eli Capilouto, according to ABC News. “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.”

In an even more heartbreaking turn to this awful story, the News-Press reports that in December, Thomas-Mora’s son, Samuel Jones Jr., 22, was shot and killed in a double homicide


She and Jones’ grandfather are traveling to Tel Aviv to retrieve her daughter’s body.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

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