By Tracy Clemons
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA)- Robby Thomas says the moment he got to the beach where the teens had gone under, he couldn't believe his eyes.
"The incident commander told me we have five, and my first reaction was 'five what?' And then he said we had five children in the water, that was the initial report, and we later learned that it was six," Thomas tells KSLA News 12.
The Shreveport fire fighter was the first diver in the water.
"After about 10, maybe 15 minutes of searching, I found the first victim and brought him up," he says.
The river was more than 20 feet deep where the teens were found. But Gardner says after about seven feet, it was pitch black.
Though he's trained for recovery missions, Gardner says there's no way to prepare for what happened Monday night.
"The Lord helps me make it through stuff like that. Talking with our peers helps us go through. But it's definitely something that weighs on your mind."
He has three sons. After the tragedy, he says, he hugged them tight and told them that he loves them. "I'm not really sure they understood why, but it's something that gave me a little comfort," says Thomas.
He adds that he's praying that the Warner and Stewart-Blalock families will have some comfort as they continue to mourn.