Promising athlete and student drowns in Jensen Beach rip current

Relatives say he was not a strong swimmer
Posted at 5:46 PM, Apr 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-11 04:58:19-04

A Treasure Coast family is attempting to cope with the sudden loss of their teenage son after he drowned Saturday in Jensen Beach.

There is a stunned silence inside the house that the teen, Venel Vaillant, called home. Family members are rallying to aid the teen's parents.

“He was very kind, a nice and loving child.  He loves everybody," said Evelyne Charlesdessin, an aunt.

He was a growing young man, but still known to many as “Junior.”

“You always need a hug and you have to give him a hug. He loves his family and he loved his friends.  Everybody is Junior’s friend," said Charlesdessin.

Vaillant was with four friends Saturday at Sea Turtle Beach in Jensen Beach when a lifeguard warned the group to get out of the water. 

According to a Martin County Sheriff’s office report, the group soon realized the water was getting too deep for them to touch the bottom and they were being pulled out by a rip current.

Vaillant was the only one of the five who could not swim back to shore.

“Pretty much sure he does not know how to swim.  I’m pretty much sure," said Petris Vaillant, an uncle.

Rescue attempts by one of Vaillant's friends, and by lifeguards, were not successful.  His body was found a short time later by a sheriff’s helicopter.  Students at Centennial said the mood Monday was very somber.

“How do you take finding out your friend drowned?  Everyone’s coping the best way possible," said Junior Milly Coby.

Vaillant was a sophomore on the football team, a defensive lineman who was emerging as one of the teams’ stars.
In fact, the coaching staff planned to have him play on both sides of the ball this fall.

“He was one of those guys always joking, always smiling.  He brought life to the room," said Centennial Head Football Coach Jamar Chaney.

Chaney said Vaillant started as a freshman and had an offer from the University of Florida to participate in their summer football camp.  But Chaney says he wasn’t just a special player,  but a special person.

“As coaches we get on players.  I never seen Venel talk back to an adult or get upset.  He was the type of person who was going to live life to the fullest and enjoy it," said Chaney.

A Go Fund Me account has been set up to help the family.