UK student studying abroad still missing after a swimming accident in Israel


TeNiya Elnora Jones, a 19-year-old University of Kentucky sophomore, was studying abroad in the Middle East when she was in a swimming accident in the Mediterranean Sea in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Saturday, July 28, 2018. Her body was found early in the morning of July 30, 2018. 

Bailey Vandiver

A UK student who has been studying abroad in the Middle East was in a swimming accident this weekend and is still missing, President Eli Capilouto said in a campus-wide email.

TeNiya Elnora Jones, a 19-year-old sophomore from Ft. Myers, Florida, was swimming in the Mediterranean Sea in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Saturday evening with two others. One of the students said they were caught in a strong current and pulled out to sea. Two of the students made it back to shore, but Jones did not, according to the press release. 

After being called by the students, Israeli officials initiated a major search and rescue effort, which is ongoing. 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with TeNiya, her family and the students and others impacted,” Capilouto said.

Capilouto said he and others at UK are in contact with her family, officials from Israel and the United States state department and Congressional delegation. 

“We will do everything possible to provide whatever support is needed,” he said.

After contacting Israeli officials, the students also contacted UK Police and the program’s coordinator, the Council on International Exchange (CIEE). CIEE officials contacted Jones’ family late Saturday evening. 

UK Education Abroad officials are arranging for Jones’ mother and grandfather to travel to Tel Aviv. Associate Provost Sue Roberts is also traveling to Tel Aviv.

Jones, who is majoring in biology and studying Islamic studies at UK, was part of a student group studying the Arabic language in Amman, Jordan, beginning in June. The group consisted of seven UK students and two West Virginia students. Four students from the group, including Jordan, had gone to Tel Aviv for the weekend. One student remained in the hotel instead of swimming on Saturday night. The program is scheduled to finish this week.