COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Michigan (Isabelle Zehnder reporting) — The family of 17-year-old Anthony Thompson is reeling in grief at the likelihood that he drowned Sunday when he took a friend up on a dare to jump into the Kalamazoo River to celebrate that Harold Camping’s “Rapture” prediction was wrong and the world wasn’t coming to an end.
Should Camping be in some way held responsible for this tragedy? There’s a differing of opinion, see below.
Anthony’s grandmother said they have found a silver lining to this tragedy – her family just learned Anthony was going to be a daddy.
Anthony’s good friend Jordan Skinner-Knapp was in the water trying to save his friend, but the current was too strong and he wasn’t able to hold on. People watched in terror as Anthony struggled in the water, screaming and waving his arms begging for someone to save him.
Emergency workers were called to the scene and immediately began searching for Anthony. They used jet skis and boats, but didn’t find anything. The search was called off Saturday night and resumed Sunday morning.
Search teams worked all day Monday trying to find him but had no luck. They will return Tuesday. Anthony’s grandmother, Mary Williams, said she still hopes they will find Anthony lying on a river bank somewhere, waiting for someone to rescue him.
Mary said, “I’m just hoping myself that he climbed on the bank somewhere and is laying there in need of help somewhere …” She began choking up and said, “Doubt is slowly creeping in and I’m very highly upset about this.”
Mary said if they don’t find Anthony on a river bank waiting to be rescued there is a silver lining to this disaster – the family just learned Anthony is going to be a daddy. “It’s a start of a new life. Naomi is going to have a baby so I thank God that we’ll have something to hold onto in this terrible situation,” she said.
Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Williams Paul Matyas said, “I’m confident we’re going to find him over time – we will find him. But as far as the immediate future, we’re just hoping for the best.”
Camping’s predictions spread fear among children and teens
Fear spread among children and teens over Camping’s prediction that the “Rapture” would take place Saturday, May 21, 2011, at 6 p.m.
After learning Camping’s prediction was wrong and the world wasn’t coming to an end, the group of teens likely felt a sense of elation and excitement as they headed to the river to celebrate. They jumped at 6:25 p.m.
Had the circumstances been different perhaps Anthony would not have taken his friend up on his dare to jump into the swift river. After all, Anthony didn’t know how to swim.
There are differing viewpoints as to whether Camping should in some way be responsible for this tragedy.
Jill Reed posted on the icedjamb.com Facebook page saying:
“Sad but not very smart. It is not Camping’s fault. There are a bunch of idiots out in the world and kids need to be informed that they are going to hear crap all their lives and to use common sense. Sorry for the family’s loss.”
Shannon Rhea had a different viewpoint and said:
“Camping is as guilty as someone who yells “FIRE” in a crowded building! He started a hysteria in weak-minded or immature individuals. He should be charged for something in this boy’s death!”
Faith Cho’Kolate-Daelite Kennedy shared her experience with her teenage son:
“My teenage son was so fearful of the world ending. Some of Camping’s followers came to his school passing out flyers about the day of rapture. I read the Bible to my son showing him what the truth really was and that this man was a false prophet.
“When I explained to him how much this man was worth and how his followers quit their jobs and gave up their belongings he was in shock.
“Still I had to hold him until the clock struck 6 p.m. ET because informing him that other countries had passed the mark wasn’t helping. I pray for those lost souls because they are going to need it with their lives swiped away.”
Doomsday prophet Harold Camping spread fear across the nation with his prediction that the “Rapture” would occur Saturday. Some of his followers believed in him so much that they quit their jobs and spent all of their life savings on billboards to spread the news that the Rapture would take place May 21, 2011.
Harold Camping’s “Rapture” prediction ends in tragedy; teen believed dead
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