Mother of Washington County Teen Who Drowned Over the Weekend in Ponca City Pays Tribute to Her Son
FOX-23 News - August 3, 2022 6:41 am
RAMONA, Okla. — The mother of a 17-year-old boy who drowned at Ponca Lake in Kay County Saturday night is paying tribute to her son. Tessa Parks said her son, Ethan Dodson, was her whole world.
Ethan went to Caney Valley High School in Ramona, Oklahoma and the football field was one of his favorite places.
“One of a kind athletic, funny, smart. Just everybody loves Ethan, he’s a great kid,” she said. “He had goals, just bigger than the sky. He would tell me goals before girls.”
Parks continued, “He said he was gonna take care of Momma. He loved his Momma. He was a Momma’s boy. He was my whole world.”
The 17-year-old was visiting family in Ponca City, Okla., and they were having fun at the lake Saturday evening. Park wasn’t there, but around 7 p.m., Ethan swam out from the dock to a buoy nearby.
“They said he said ‘Yay, I touched the buoy!’ And then he was swimming back, and he just stopped. And his brother said he looked at him, and he looked scared,” Parks explained. “And he said help, and he went under once and never came back up.”
His family tried to help, and multiple law enforcement agencies searched for him, but the Oklahoma Highway Patrol found his body two hours later.
“It’s indescribable to lose a child. There’s no way anybody can know how it feels unless it happens to them,” Parks said.
In a statement from Ponca City Police, investigators said they are still looking into exactly what happened.
Parks said Ethan was a strong swimmer but wasn’t wearing a life vest. She wants everyone to think about putting one on if you’re at the lake.
“Anytime that somebody is swimming, if there’s no lifeguard on duty even when you’re a strong swimmer wear a life vest, you know. Because if he had, he might be here today,” Parks said.
Ethan was about to start his senior year at Caney Valley High School, and he wanted to be a marine.
He was also a Boy Scout and played football for the Trojans. Parks said Ethan’s friends have messaged her, and the local community has been rallying around her.
“I’ve had a lot of young people, you know, teenagers, sending me friend requests, and messages. I guess they feel they can be close to Momma, they can still be close to Ethan. They send me stories, and that helps me a lot,” Parks told FOX23.
The football team is going to honor him by having his number, 33, put on their helmets this year, as the community and Tessa remember Ethan.
A candlelight vigil is being held at the Caney Valley High School Football field on Saturday at 7 p.m. to remember his life.
A GoFundMe has also been set up to help the family with their expenses.