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Funeral arrangements set for 2 North Webster High boys who drowned in creek in Claiborne Parish

The two teen boys drowned in a creek in Claiborne Parish on Sunday, May 16, 2021.
The two teen boys drowned in a creek in Claiborne Parish on Sunday, May 16, 2021.(Claiborne Parish Sheriff's Office)
Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 1:24 PM CDT
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CLAIBORNE PARISH, La. (KSLA) - Two teenage boys are dead after drowning in a creek, the Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office reports.

On Sunday, May 16, the sheriff’s office got a 911 call around 4:45 p.m. that two swimmers in Flat Lick Creek were missing. Deputies responded to the scene on Flat Lick Road just under five miles south of Louisiana Highway 2 in the southwest part of the parish.

When deputies got there, they spoke with three other teenage boys who said they were swimming in Flat Lick Creek when the two other teens went missing.

Deputies called for additional help from other agencies across north Louisiana; divers began to search the water around 6 p.m. Minutes later, two bodies were found submerged in the creek, the sheriff’s office reports.

The parish coroner, Dr. Mark Haynes, arrived on scene and pronounced the victims dead. Their bodies were taken to Little Rock, Ark., for autopsies.

The teens have been identified as 16-year-olds Tavious Tate and Donald Owens, both of Springhill.

Springhill resident, Fannie Jefferson, says her grandson knew them and is taking it hard.

“He is trying to be strong, but I see it in his face, you know, the hurt, and all I can do is hug him and let him know that I love you,” she said.

Tate and Owens both played football at the school and had a good reputation among students and staff alike.

“Both of these young men were on our plan to be starting cornerbacks for the 2021-22 season,” Coach John Ware said. “They would have been numbers 86 and 87. I can’t think of one of them without thinking of the other. I honestly feel like both of these guys would have played football past North Webster High School as they had a very bright future ahead.”

Superintendent Johnny Roland says the school is a big family and everyone is mourning.

“Any time you lose anyone, and much less two young men of that caliber, it is a loss that will be felt for a long time,” he said.

Barbara Applewhite describes the news as tragic.

“We all were members of the church here. I know their mother and they were at church almost every Sunday,” she said.

She sends her condolences the family. “We’re there for the families and praying for them.”

The Webster Parish School District sent out a statement Monday, May 17 confirming the boys were students at North Webster High. Read the full statement below:

“The Webster Parish School District was sad to learn of the tragic loss of two of our students who were sophomores at North Webster High School in Springhill, LA. Antavious Tate and Donald Owens were loved by their peers and teachers at the school and will be sorely missed. Both students were actively involved in athletics and many other extra-curricular activities and their passing will be felt by many. Head football Coach John Ware stated, ‘Both of these young men were on our plan to be starting corner backs for the 2021-22 season….They would have been numbers 86 and 87. I can’t think of one of them without thinking of the other. I honestly feel like both of these guys would have played football past North Webster High School as they had a very bright future ahead.’ Principal Gabe Lyons echoed Coach Ware’s sentiments and said both young men are leaving a lasting impact on our school. Our thoughts, prayers, and sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and staff who loved these two young men.”

The school district says grief counselors have been made available for any students or staff in need.

The funeral for the two boys has been set for Sunday, May 23 at 12 p.m. at the North Webster High School gym. Visitation will be held Saturday, May 22 from 3 to 6 p.m.

The two teen boys drowned in a creek in Claiborne Parish on Sunday, May 16, 2021.
The two teen boys drowned in a creek in Claiborne Parish on Sunday, May 16, 2021.(Claiborne Parish Sheriff's Office)

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