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University of Kentucky Student Drowns While Studying Abroad In Israel

The body of a University of Kentucky student who went missing during a late night swim during her study abroad trip was found along the shore of an Israeli beach Monday, The Times of Israel reported.

TeNiya Jones, 19, had been missing since Saturday after she and two friends decided to go for a swim and got caught in a rip current in the Mediterranean Sea. Jones’ friends, a 20- year-old woman who attends the University of Kentucky and a 21-year-old man who goes to the West Virginia University in Morgantown, managed to make it safely back to shore, but Jones did not.

TeNiya Jones

TeNiya Jones was swept out to sea during a late-night swim with friends in Tel Aviv. (Image courtesy of News-Press)

Her friends quickly notified authorities and the study-abroad program coordinator, a UK news release stated, after which rescue forces began their search for the young woman. Jones’ body washed up in Tel Aviv early Monday morning.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with TeNiya, her family, the students and others impacted,” UK president Eli Capilouto said in a statement. “We are in continual contact with TeNiya’s family, officials in Israel, officials from the State Department and Congressional delegation, to provide all the support we can. We’ll do everything possible to provide whatever support is needed.”

Jones, a native of Fort Meyers, Fla., was a sophomore at the university who majored in biology with a minor in Islamic Studies, USA TODAY reported. She was part of a seven-week exchange program in Amman, Jordan that focused on the Arabic language. Family members said she and her friends decided to visit Tel Aviv before they returned to the U.S. on Friday.

Jones’ mother, Tosha Thomas-Mora, said her daughter had just earned a spot in the university’s pre-med program.

“She was supposed to start on August 23,” Thomas-Mora said through tears.

The grieving mother is facing the death of her second child in less than a year, according to the newspaper. Thomas-Mora lost her 22-year-old son, Samuel Jones Jr., in a double homicide in December.

Jones’ high school track coach described her as the type of person who never gave up.

“She worked her (butt) off,” said coach Guy Thomas. “She’s really mature for her age. She realized falling down and getting back up is a part of success.”

Jones’ mother is expected to travel to Israel on Monday. The study-abroad program was set to end this week.

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