The Altus Times covered an accidental drowning of a young man from Arlington, Texas on June 18. Out of the unfortunate circumstance of the drowning has come a bit of reaffirming and encouraging news. People involved with the incident, first responders and those who assisted in some way, helped to make a difference for those affected by the loss of that young life.
The victim was on a wrestling team and had come with his teammates to our area. According to the report written by Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper George Hoyle,who is assigned to Troop W, a special services troop for incidents and accidents involving bodies of water. He said his unit has unfortunately been very busy with drownings this year.
Hoyle said the following troopers were involved in the search and helping the teammates and their family members: Trooper Michael Jewell, Trooper Tyler Shelby, Trooper Chris Sherman, Trooper George Hoyle and Lt. Thomas Pogue. They were assisted by the Greer County Sheriff’s Office and Park Rangers at Quartz Mountain Nature Park.
A post by Kevin Martin on the Facebook Altus Community Discussion Group page led to Martin’s interview by Managing Editor Mike Bush. Martin said he felt proud to be part of a community where first responders like the OHP and Lake Patrol officers helped mobilize the community to help visitors to our area. Martin said a local church, which Hoyle verified was Altus First Baptist Church, helped house and feed the visitors. They were, according to Martin and Hoyle, there to console and pray with the victim’s friends. Speaking of the teammates and their families, Martin said,“They were absolute strangers who were right in the middle of crisis and needed us.”
Tonya Pogue, wife of Lt. Thomas Pogue said, “There were many citizens of Altus there that evening that assisted with getting the boys settled with food, drinks, prayers and support. It was a very tragic event, but I was so proud of how our community came together very quickly. The insight of the OK Highway Patrol Troopers who activated that assistance is how it all started. When the suggestion of a bank parking lot was mentioned at the scene, as a place for the team to wait for family, my husband suggested a church as a more comfortable place to rest, and that’s how it all started. Not to give him any special notoriety, but assessing a situation in a way that not just provides what is required, but going above and beyond to do our very best is commendable. McDonald’s owners in Altus were called and brought food for the wrestling team and the First Baptist Church of Altus offered their youth ministry facility as a comfortable place for the kids to wait for family to arrive. There were others who came who weren’t affiliated with the church that were a great help.”