'Beyond numb': Mother of Little Miami drowning victim still has questions

'Beyond numb': Mother of Little Miami drowning victim still has questions

GOSHEN, OH (FOX19) - A Goshen mother's heart is broken after a three-day search in the Little Miami River ended with her son's body recovered near Camp Dennison Memorial Park.

"People go for a reason. We may not know the reason. but it happens for a reason," Rachel Carpenter said.

On Monday night, Carpenter got the dreaded call that the body of her 17-year-old son James Ward was found in the Little Miami River by a kayaker.

"I'm beyond numb," said Carpenter.

She says her nightmare began on Saturday night when Ward went swimming near Camp Dennison with his older brother. She got a call just before 7 p.m. from one of Ward's friends saying he was gone.

"(My other son) told me that he was screaming for help and he jumped in and tried to help him. He tried. He'd seen his fingertips and he said, 'Mom I just missed,'" said Carpenter.

She says her son was a strong swimmer but couldn't out swim the current pulling him down.

"I always told him don't go because of the bad currents. The sinkholes, the quick sand -- it could take him at any point in time," said Carpenter.

Disappointed with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' response, she wasted no time forming her own search party on the rough waters.

"I put out on my Facebook page please people help us in the area for our community to come together with family, friends, strangers -- it didn't matter. I just wanted my son home," said Carpenter.

People from all across Ohio answered the call to make it happen. Dozens came out to look for Ward. Monday night the kayaker who came across his body held him until the rescue team could pull him out.

"It meant a lot to me that we had more love than we actually know even from a stranger," said Carpenter.

Though her heart continues to break a little more each time she looks through Ward's pictures, she knows she has to be strong for her other three sons, including her 18-year-old who saw it happen.

"For something that happened so tragic in front of him and knowing that he couldn't save his brother it's been a huge impact on him," said Carpenter.

As they lean on each other for support, she will continue to hold on to the good memories they shared.

"Everything, everything -- his moments. His spats. His lovely smile that he had. He was a wonderful boy," said Carpenter.

His funeral is scheduled from Friday in Goshen. A visitation will held at Evans Funeral Home from 10 a.m. to noon. The funeral is slated to begin at noon.

Ward's mother says she still has a lot of questions. She says some of the timelines don't add up. The Hamilton County Sheriff's office says the investigation is still ongoing.

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