Pulaski County community wipes their tears at a vigil for 5-year-old boy who passed away

Police say Auston Wingo drowned at the Pulaski YMCA on Monday

DUBLIN, Va. – It was a tearful night at Randolph Park Saturday as the Pulaski County community honored a 5-year-old who passed away too soon.

Community members could be seen lighting candles one by one, but those candles will never match the brightness of 5-year-old Auston Wingo.

“His big smile, that’s what’s going to mean a lot to us,” Julie Hudson, Wingo’s cousin, said. “I’m going to cherish his smile for the rest of my life.”

On Monday, Wingo was found unresponsive after swimming at the Pulaski YMCA and died later that night at Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

As Hudson hugged her children, she said the community vigil was needed for the children to process their emotions.

“It’s not just for us, but for our kids to be able to tell Bubba they love him...because they wanted to,” she said.

7-year-old Tatyana could not stop looking at the photo of her brother.

Wingo’s guardians held each other tight as they sobbed into each other’s arms.

Rebbeca Isom organized the vigil and knew Auston and his siblings as a former employee at the YMCA.

She said it’s normal protocol to have lifeguards monitoring the students and if not, the pool is shut down. So, Isom was shocked to hear the tragic news.

“When you are in that type of situation you can’t help but wonder if I was there…but again it’s just I mean tragic,” she said. “I don’t know what happened, but I just hate it for everybody because I know everybody is missing this little boy.”

Critzer Elementary School will collect funds for the family until Tuesday.

You can make an online donation here, or by sending a check made payable to “Critzer Elementary School” to the address below:

Critzer Elementary School

100 Critzer Drive

Pulaski, VA 24301

Please write “Auston Wingo Memorial Fund” on the memo line of the check.

About the Author:

Alexus joined 10 News in October 2020.