Community mourns loss of mother and son in drowning

The small community of Paragon, in Morgan County is mourning the loss of a young mother and her son.

Jana Payton and her son Bronson Liggett died Saturday after the car they were riding in got stuck in flood waters.

Payton’s uncle, Rick Finney, says Jana was a single mom to two young boys and a hard worker.

He says the support they’ve received from the community has meant so much to the family.

Jana and Bronson, mother and son, are forever remembered in pictures and memories.

Rick Finney is Jana’s uncle. He says he spent all afternoon and part of the evening Friday with Bronson.

“He got out of the van, looked at us both, and told us that he loved us, and we were able to look at him and tell him we loved him, and that was the last time we seen him,” said Finney.

Just hours later, Rick and his wife received word there had been a terrible tragedy. The car Jana and Bronson were riding in had gotten stuck along a flooded road. The driver swam for help.

When she got back, Jana and Bronson were gone. They were found within minutes of each other in the water.

“We knew they would be together,” said Finney. “Jana, the last thing she would do is she would have her arms wrapped around that boy and they would be close. And they were. We knew they would be.”

It’s been a difficult few days. The community held this vigil for Jana and Bronson Sunday night: telling stories, remembering them both.

“You really feel the sense of how people really care and love one another, and it means a lot. It means a lot,” said Finney.

Finney says he has just two messages for others. One, about driving through a flooded road.

“Don’t take it for granted that you can drive through,” Finney said. “They drove in it, and tried to back up and they couldn’t…  Cars nowadays are so lightweight, it doesn’t take a lot to wash them off the road and really get deep really fast.”

But, the big picture he says, is about family and friends.

“When you leave them, hug them and tell them you love them, because you never know, tomorrow may not come. That may be the last time you see them, so just learn to love one another.”

Finney says Jana and Bronson did not have insurance, so they’re hoping to raise enough money for the funeral.

Click here to see their Go Fund Me page they’ve started, to raise money.

They also have a memorial fund set up at The People’s State Bank.

Anything more they get, Finney says,  will go to Jana’s surviving son Blake.

The funeral is set for Saturday. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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