Oregon family honors Wichita drowning victim

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – People from as far away as Oregon are showing their support for the family of Devon Cooley, the Wichita boy who died in a creek in May.

“I thought I would have him in my life for the rest of my life,” said Devon’s aunt Cassidy Cooley.

Devon lived with Cassidy Cooley’s dad. She said she has still not come to terms with her nephew’s death.

“It’s still a nightmare I’m going to wake up from, even though it’s been awhile, I still feel like it’s going to end,” Cassidy said.

Devon was 11-years-old when he fell into Gypsum Creek in late May. Cassidy said Devon was with his two step-brothers when he tried to cross an area of the creek, but slipped.

“He fought hard, got to the side climbed out, slipped again and at that point in time that’s when the youngest was trying to help him out,” Cassidy said.

Search and rescue crews recovered Devon’s body about a week later.

“You are not supposed to bury your children or your nephews or your nieces, they are supposed to be there forever,” Cassidy said.

The news of Devon’s death spread across the country. It had a big impact on a family in Oregon.

“We actually have a daughter who is the same age and has the same birthday as Devon,” said Curt Loch.

Curt Loch is the president of Loch Unlimited Inc. Loch Unlimited Inc. is a company, based out of Bend, Oregon, that specializes in making skateboard racks for schools.

A group of Devon’s teachers at Mead Middle School reached out to Loch after Devon’s death. They wanted to buy a skateboard rack in his honor.

“We actually just shipped it out to them yesterday, so they should be receiving it in the next couple of days,” Loch said.

However, there won’t be an invoice shipped with the delivery. Lock and his company have donated the more than $1,200 skateboard rack to Devon’s school and family.

“I’m glad that we can help out and are making this family feel better about this situation,” he said.

Cassidy said she is thankful for the outpouring of support.

“Just to know the story got that far and people that far away still care, it’s amazing,” Cassidy said. “You don’t realize until a tragedy like this happens how important he was to not just our family, but the community itself.”

Another company in Oregon colored the skateboard rack purple free of charge.

Devon’s teachers and family hope to have a ceremony to unveil the skateboard rack and memorial at the school in the near future.

The Cooley family is creating a water safety organization with the goal of educating other people about water safety.

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