There are no words that can describe the pain a mother feels from the loss of her child. Eleven years ago celebrity stylist Tameka Foster lost her 11-year-old son Kile Glover in a horrible jet ski accident in Georgia’s extremely dangerous Lake Lanier.
Since then, Foster and her family have been on the rollercoaster ride of grief, only to come out the other side ready to finish the fight for his legacy.
Tameka recently launched a change.org petition dedicated to cleaning and restoring the man-made body of water, which has been swirling with controversy since its inception in 1956.
The stories that surround Lake Lanier seem plucked right from the pages of your favorite horror story.
The massive 57.92 square-mile reservoir was established with the completion of the Buford Dam. To this day, it helps control flooding along the Chattahoochee River, as well as provide water and power to residents near Atlanta.
Unfortunately, the Black town of Oscarville was flooded in the creation of the lake, leaving roughly 1,100 black folks, most of whom were freed after fighting in the American Civil War homeless. Imagine coming home from work to find your entire town buried beneath the largest body of water in the state of Georgia. Your schools, your gas stations, your graveyards, all under water.
Over the years, Lake Lanier has gained a reputation from the locals as an American horror story filled with terror, death, genocide and ghosts. Many folks who live close by will tell you straight up, “Don’t go to Lake Lanier.” And its death toll certainly validates their point. There have been over 700 deaths since the lake’s inception.
But Tameka Foster wants to finally get to the bottom of the mysteries of Lake Lanier. What is really at the bottom of this massive reservoir?
NewsOne had the exclusive opportunity to sit down with Tameka and discuss her petition and why it’s important to her to get Lake Lanier cleaned and restored.
NewsOne: Eleven years ago you lost your son from a devastating accident at Lake Lanier. Talk about the grieving process of losing a son and how it affected your family.
Tameka Foster: I mean, it’s kind of a touch-and-go situation. You never get over it, but you do learn to live around it. It’s just a struggle. Every week, every day, I think of Kile. Of course, the month of July is particularly hard because the accident happened on July 6. But Kile was in the hospital for two weeks until July 21 when his heart stopped. I think one of the biggest misconceptions was that we turned the machines off or we pulled the plug; that absolutely didn’t happen. I would have never in a million years allowed that.
How are the rest of your children doing with the grieving process?
You know, what I think makes it really a little bit more palatable is that I keep his name in our household. So, I don’t make it like a shock on his birthday or in July. In the month of July, I don’t make it like, okay, everybody, we’re going to be sad this week. We kind of talk about Kile all the time. There are pictures of him around. Kile is a part of our conversations. We speak about how we miss him. My youngest son, I would say he took Kile’s passing, I think, the hardest. At least he was the most visible about it. He’s doing much better now, but when he was young, he would cry at school. I would have to go pick him up because of his brother. He misses his brother.
Tell us about Kile, what do you remember most about him?
I have so many funny memories because Kile was an aspiring actor. He has all these YouTube videos that I told him, I forbid him to put these videos up. I said, “Listen, somebody’s going to get your IP address. You cannot have these videos.” And I have to say, I’m glad he defied me on that because now the videos are there as memories. Everybody can see them. And guess what? He would have been a YouTube star before it was even a thing. Now everybody is monetizing it. Kile was just into it. He was creative. He created his own YouTube channels. He created his own e-mail accounts. He was very tech-savvy.
That’s one thing I will say about Kile. I remember on his phone when he passed away, I looked through his photos and stuff. He had all these different images of Steve Jobs. He was obsessed. He loved Steve Jobs. He had his name written in different fonts and different graphics behind it. He was a huge Apple aficionado. So I’m hoping when his cartoon comes out that we can have Apple as a partner to show their new products. Because I feel that Kile is somewhere in Apple heaven, creating and giving ideas to the geniuses for new iPhones.
Let’s talk about your petition. A lot of craziness goes on at Lake Lanier. What is the main goal of your petition?
I’ll tell you, when the accident first happened, it took about a year for me to just kind of snap out of the shock of losing him. But I ended up lobbying at the Senate, on the Senate floor, and I really fought to get him a law passed. So there was a law: the Kile Glover Boater Education Act. So that was supposed to require all boaters and people that operate personal watercrafts to be educated first; you had to go through a class.
You went through this class, and everybody’s supposed to be smart out there boating now, right? Well, no, it hasn’t been enforced. People are still willy-nilly and drunk on the lake. People are watching the 10-minute class, but I don’t think they upgraded the measures at all for safety. That’s a problem for me. Eleven years now, they haven’t gotten it right and they haven’t enforced the law that they gave us. There are so many kids. This is not just about Kile. That same summer, Jake and Griffin Prince lost their lives, two brothers. One mom lost two boys at the same time on the same day. This was in June. This happened to Kile in July. So the idea was to just get Lake Lanier to excavate the area.
What do you think they will find at the bottom of Lake Lanier?
You said you’ve researched the urban legends of Lake Lanier. There was a town called Oscarville, amongst other towns. Lake Lanier is 26 miles. I’ve heard there’s a church in a steeple under there. There’s a gas station. There are gas pumps, old fences with barbed wire that were in place, farms and stuff that were all flooded. It wasn’t properly cleared.
I’m told there were over 20 graves, grave sites back then. And then they said their argument is, “oh, we moved the graves.” Now, you know, and I know that all of the African American graves were not moved.
I don’t believe it. They say there were bad spirits at the bottom of that lake. They say it’s bad energy. There have been swimmers that say they’ve been in there, jumped off to swim for a moment, and it feels like something is tugging them under.
And what else is interesting about the area is the history of Forsyth County and all the racism that dates back to 1912. All of that is really interesting once you put it into the context of this haunted lake.
They laugh at me about it, though. I’m getting comments on Instagram that are not nice. They’re like, “None of this will bring your son back.” I said, you’re absolutely right, but it’ll prevent another person’s son from being in that position. You know what I mean? I don’t think it’s going to bring him back. I’m not in denial. I don’t think some magical clearing of a lake is going to bring my son back. But it will prevent the trauma of another tragedy for another family. It could possibly be the saving grace for someone else.
I’m sorry, you’re getting comments like that, social media can be a terrible place.
My skin is thick. I’m ready. They found the right one.
Lake Lanier is an important power source and revenue driver for not only the state of Georgia but other places as well. Do you think that’s the reason why it’s kind of been so untouched? I mean, we’ve known about the history of Lake Lanier for a while and it’s never been cleaned.
I don’t think anyone’s challenged them to do it.
Well, see, I’ll tell you, my issue is when the thing first happened, the natural reaction for a mother would be like, I’m going to sue. That was the first thing, I was just mad. I feel that they were very negligent in my case. I feel that the DNR testified, the DNR, that’s the Department of Natural Resources, which is basically the Water police. They’re the ones on the water that stop you from doing reckless behavior, like donuts on a jet ski. They testified in court that they intended to cite him, but they did not. They didn’t approach him. They didn’t ever get a chance to. But there was no time to do it later because the accident happened. My son had to be airlifted and it was a tragic and chaotic scene. So I think there was some negligence that occurred at that lake that day. In fact, I don’t think, I know that there was some negligence. So my petition is to make them enforce the rules that they have implemented.
My idea is not to drain the lake and close it up. I don’t want the homeowners to lose their lakefront land or the property values or whatever, but they do need to take some measures to really make sure it’s safe.
After your petition reaches its goal, which looks like it will be soon, what are the next steps?
Well, I’m hoping that I can meet with lawmakers and officials and stakeholders. I’m hoping that we can come to an agreement on the dangers. In fact, they closed the beach near Margaritaville and it’s fenced in around certain shores, so there must be sinkholes. They’re finding some dangers.
Whether Lake Lanier is haunted or not is anyone’s guess, but it’s almost impossible to ignore all the tragedy that happens there.
It shouldn’t take a grieving mother for us to acknowledge and want to fix this, but here we are.
If you would like to support Tameka Foster and her campaign to clean Lake Lanier, click here.
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