Deep Fork Tragedy

Bison Blinds

A 13-year-old Luther boy accidentally drowned Friday in the Deep Fork River. The medical examiner must disclose the child’s identity, however, in our small town, many know and are praying and rushing to the aid of the family. It goes without saying that we are all shocked and heartbroken.

Oklahoma City Fire Batallion Chief Benny Fulkerson said they received the call about 11:52 am Friday. “We were told a 13-year-old male had gone in the water and couldn’t swim. That was the report we had,” he said. He also said the victim was with another 13-year-old boy who tried to save his friend before the emergency call was placed. 

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He said there is an unconfirmed report the boys might have been trying to recover a lost shoe as they were playing down at the river, at a point where there is a bank a shallow water.

“A lot of things were working against the child in this situation. It was not the best of conditions,” said Fulkerson. He noted that with the distance emergency personnel had to drive from Oklahoma City and Edmond to the scene, between Arcadia and Luther, combined with no visibility in the murky, deep water for divers – the rescue attempt turned to a heartbreaking recovery effort.

West side of the river – shallow with a current on the west side of the bridge on Choctaw Road.
East side of the bridge on Choctaw Road where the boy was found.

He said divers from Oklahoma City and Edmond Fire Departments recovered his body from a ten-foot depth of water on the east side of the bridge at the Deep Fork River on Choctaw Road between Highway 66 and 178th. He said when the accident happened, the boys were near the water on the west side of the bridge where the water was more shallow but the current was swifter. There was no current where the boy was found in the deep water, he said, noting divers found him where they thought he might be.

He said the child was located at about 1:50 pm. “At that point, firefighters secured the child on the bank and called for the medical examiner. His parents were here. Our firefighters were trying to comfort as best as we could.”

He said given that the water temperatures measured between 56 – 64 degrees, there was just one hour for the best survival chance. It was about two hours from the time the call was received to when the boy was found. He said they pinpointed that the accident happened just before 11:24 am while the initial call was received at 11:52 am.

“It is heartbreaking for that family. We hope the family and friends would gather around them and get them through this situation,” said Fulkerson.

Luther schools were not open today for a planned professional day for faculty. Quickly, school administrators gathered information to help the families and friends of those affected by the tragedy.

“I am heartbroken for the family. They are in our thoughts and prayers,” said Superintendent Barry Gunn. He said he has coordinated with Brandi McDaniel, MHR, LPC, with a Bright Tomorrow Counseling Service who provides pro bono counseling services for Luther Public Schools.

“Our hearts are heavy this evening as our community mourns the sudden and tragic death of one of our young souls earlier today. The thoughts and prayers of the entire staff at A Bright Tomorrow Counseling Serivce are with the victims’ families and with the students, faculty and staff of the Luther School District.

“A Bright Tomorrow Counseling Service will be available for any member of our community who wishes to speak to a trained counselor about their feelings surrounding this incident. Phone counseling will be available all weekend at 405-608-6878, or students and faculty may speak with a counselor in person, beginning Monday morning at Luther Middle School,” said McDaniel.

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