Boy Drowns At Cummins Falls Trying To Save His Friend

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Photo: Video by NewsChannel5.com

Boy Drowns At Cummins Falls Trying To Save His Friend

CREATED Jun 16, 2014
by Adam Ghassemi

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Visitors weren’t allowed into Cummins Falls State Park near Cookeville Saturday as divers worked to recover the bodies of two 13-year-old boys, KeyVonte Cunningham and D'Donta Gray.

The boys were among a group of teens from Backfield in Motion, a Nashville non-profit geared at making inner-city “significant contributors to society." The trip was sponsored by Great Outdoors University, according a Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation spokeswoman.

On Sunday, the congregation at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Bordeaux heard a message honoring Cunningham instead of the planned Father’s Day sermon.

"Today we're grieving because he meant so much to us,” said Pastor Allataye Russ. "Sometimes life deals us more questions than answers, and in those times we simply have to trust God that he knows what's best and he's ultimately in control."

Some details are still unclear, but family members told NewsChannel 5 Cunningham noticed Gray was in trouble. He made it out to his friend, but when pulling Gray to shore the current pulled them both under.

They resurfaced once, and then disappeared.

"He serves as an example. I mean, it's befitting of his character to do something like this,” Russ said.

There's no word on how many adults where there, and if they could have prevented the drownings.

Micah Kimble from Backfield in Motion said he was too upset to do an on-camera interview, and instead sent an emailing saying, “Right now our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the young men.”

Sunday Gray’s family released the following statement through Randy Dowell, the Executive Director of KIPP Nashville:

“D’Donta Gray passed Friday, June 13, tragically drowning alongside a close friend while participating in a Backfield in Motion trip that included a stop at Cummins Falls. D’Donta was the youngest of our children, and brought joy to our family. D’Donta was an excellent student and contributor to the KIPP Academy Nashville community, where he was preparing to rise to the 8th grade. D’Donta was loved by friends, family, and teachers, and our family appreciates the outpouring of love and support we have received from so many of them. As our family heals, we ask for privacy and we hope that D’Donta’s passing brings good to our community and this world in some way. Words cannot possibly capture D’Donta’s strength, optimistic spirit, and positive example he shared with us and so many others. We love him and will miss him always.”

The boys are the first two people to die at Cummins Falls since it became a state park back in 2012.

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