PHOENIX — A Phoenix father is heartbroken, grieving the loss of his son. His youngest boy was swept away by rapids while rafting in Guatemala.
Deacon Doug Bogart, who serves at Saints Simon and Jude Cathedral, says his son, Evan Daniel Bogart, was a free spirit who was full of life, laughter, and love.
Tragically, his life was cut far too short.
“It hurts. It hurts a lot,” said Bogart.
He tells ABC15 he’s still trying to accept the reality that his boy is gone.
“It’s still pretty raw and pretty unreal,” he said, holding back the tears.
February 9, he got a call from his son’s friend.
He was told his 39-year-old son, who had been living in Lanquín, Guatemala for three months, had been missing for six hours.
“We didn’t sleep much that night,” said Evan’s dad.
The next morning, he jumped on the first plane, and prayed the entire time for his son to still be alive.
“Mainly we thought he was going to be found downstream, hurt because he’s an experienced river guide,” Bogart told ABC15.
When he finally got to the small Guatemalan town, nearly 40 hours into the search, Doug got the news no parent should ever have to receive.
“We all burst into tears. It was very tough. But the people in the Lanquín area say is that…if the river’s going to give someone back to you it will do it within 48 hours. And that’s what it did,” he added.
Evan was teaching a local how to raft when their boat overturned.
“Our assumption is that he was standing, trying to flip the boat, slipped. His feet were entrapped and once that happens, with the pressure of the water…there’s no way you can get out,” said Bogart.
Now friends and family are left reminiscing on Evan's incredible life.
“He had a huge, huge heart. He did 7 years in the infantry of the U.S. Army. Came home with two Purple Hearts. He was a good man,” added Evan’s dad.
Bogart tells ABC15 he is now finding comfort in his faith, and knowing his son passed away doing what he loved.
“He was really, truly living his dream. He will be deeply missed by his army community, by his rafting community, and…of course, by his family and friends,” said the grieving father.
The family has an online fundraiser to help with funeral expenses and bring Evan’s two dogs to Phoenix, from Guatemala.