Friends and family are coping with the loss of a Siloam Springs teenager.
The body of 16 year old Evan Thomas was recovered from the Illinois River Tuesday night.
“The city is mourning the loss of Evan,” said Jason Kelly, friend of Evan Thomas and Pastor of Families at First Baptist in Siloam Springs.
According to friends, Evan Thomas was a well-known teenager in Siloam Springs
“We watched him grow up from a little kid,” Kelly said. “He had the goofiest laugh ever. It was like a squeal.”
Thomas was swimming in the newly built Siloam Springs White Water Recreational Park when he went missing. His body was found 200 yards downstream by emergency responders.
“He was on the swim team, so it was really hard to hear that that had happened,” Kelly said.
Friends and family tell 5NEWS that Thomas was an active member in his community.
News of Thomas’s death hit many hard, including his teachers and coaches at Siloam Springs High School. Thomas was on the Siloam Springs swimming and basketball teams. School officials said his swimming coach was having a hard time coping with the loss.
He was also on the drum line for the school.
“We were in just shock,” said Sean Lane, band director at Siloam Springs High School. “You never expect someone you’ve known for year, and someone so young, for something like this to happen.”
Mentors of Evan Thomas tell 5news he was energetic, kind, and easy to get along with.
“We will just miss him being around,” Kelly said. “Whenever he was around, he would just light up the room.”
“I’ll never think you met anyone who didn’t like him” Lane said.
While the friends and family of Evan Thomas mourn, Thomas’s mentors say his peers are having a difficult time explaining this tragedy.
“[There are] lots of questions of, you know, why? Why now?” Kelly said. “Those are the questions we can’t necessarily answer. God works in mysterious ways.”