Strangers rush to help find teen who drowned at Bartlett Lake

Posted at 9:04 PM, Oct 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-03 09:42:22-04

Dianna Ecklar and friends were enjoying a day on the lake. It was their end of the summer celebration riding around in jet skis and taking the boat out on the lake.

Little did they know just minutes into their celebration they would be helping search for a missing 15-year-old boy.  

"It just hit home hard because our families are always out there, because you see this other mother and this poor kid and how could you not help," said Ecklar.

She and her fiancee were riding on their jet ski when they came across a young man on the shore and a woman, it appeared to her fiancee that they needed help and they went over.

"That's when we were informed that somebody had gone under the water and hadn't come up," she said. "Immediately we grabbed our jet skis and started looking, the water was so murky...Tom, my fiancee, was grabbing me, dragging me on the sit down so I could put my head under the water."

Ecklar says the woman was the teen's mother. The young man, the teen's friend, was the last person to see him alive.  

Ecklar says the family had spent the weekend camping near Sandy Beach Cove and were packing up getting ready to head home. She claims the teen and his friend went for one final swim before they left when things took a turn for the worst.  

"It was within the no wake zone, it wasn't in deep water, there was no strong current, there was none of that," Ecklar said. 

Back on shore, she says she could see the family in a state of disbelief as more and more people continued to show up to help in the search.

"There was a lot of people at this point helping, another boat patrolling and another kayak," she said. "We had another friend that had their boat and then later on we had a boat that we took out that everyone was on, even after the divers were looking, we were looking along the shoreline."

Nearly two hours after the search began shortly before noon, search and rescue teams would find the teen's body. Ecklar says she was devastated to learn where it was found. 

"He was about 10 feet from where we were all looking, it was only in about 15 feet of water," she said.

Tonight, the loss is still weighing heavy on her wondering if there was anything else she could've done to help save the young man's life.

"You want the family to have answers and have their kid back," she said. "We just hope they can heal from this and sorry we couldn't help more."