Franklin mourns loss of teen drowning victims

Michael Chadbourne

One week later, the rushing water continues at the Big Blue River dam that claimed the life of Franklin Community High School football player #38.

Before the services for 16-year-old Michael Chadbourne began, many classmates and even complete strangers stopped at the river site off of SR 252 and River Road to pause and to reflect.

"I just wanted to see the dam. It's been a big thing that's affected our community and I don't know the kids really that well, but still just coming down to see it and pay my respects," said Elijah Smith.

The nightmare began one week ago as friends swam in the Big Blue River at Edinburgh.

Student Sarah McLevish went over the dam and got caught in the powerful boil. Two of her friends, Chadbourne and 17-year-old Jason Moran tried to save her. But Moran was also trapped and went under. His body was not found for two days.

Chadbourne was taken to IU Health Methodist Hospital in critical condition, but died Monday afternoon. McLevish remains in critical condition.

"Seeing an entire community like this, it's very heartbreaking. Growing up here, I've never seen something so tragic to go through," said student Paige Harris.

Friday night, hundreds gathered at the Franklin Community High School gymnasium to remember Chadbourne. Students, staff and parents gathered to say goodbye.

"You suffer together, you heal together," said one student's father.

That's just one reason there were so many families together at Friday's memorial.

"To me, it's very heartbreaking to see a community like this come together, so I am very proud," said Tara Eakle, the mother of two Franklin students.

“He was just a sweet kid he would do anything for anybody just a great member of our family,” his uncle, Tony Napolitano said.

Chadbourne's uncles, Tony Napolitano and Steven Chadbourne, traveled from Maine for the services.

“Mickey was just a very compassionate, fine young man very polite, just loved everyone loves his friends love this family,” Steven Chadbourne said.

They've been overwhelmed and thankful for the community support

“It's very touching and it warms the heart,” Steven Chadbourne said.

In addition to all the benefits that are planned throughout the community, the high school is also a major place for that.

Many people are coming to the main office to donate money, while others are coming to the guidance office to buy Franklin strong t-shirts. Friday afternoon, more than 600 had been sold. All proceeds go to the family.

Teacher Lesleigh Groce helped organize one of the Franklin Strong t-shirt benefits. She also teaches Sarah McLevish.

“She is spunky. She is energetic she is happy she is stubborn she's a stinker she is honestly what I feel like will pull her through this because she gives me a run for my money,” Groce said.

With blue ribbons now throughout Edinburgh and Franklin, the school is also looking into a permanent memorial.

“Ideas are already in our heads. There is no manual you can go by so we're learning I'm in uncharted territory myself as a principal,” said Franklin Community High School Principal Doug Harter.

Chadbourne donated eight organs - the maximum amount of solid organs possible - to recipients in Indiana and across the country.

IOPO says his heart will go to a 14-year-old boy in Iowa. His lungs went to an Indiana woman in her fifties. His liver, pancreas and intestines all went to an Indiana man in his fifties. His kidneys are awaiting organ recipients.

"I'm really sorry this has happened. Last week, I never expected, sitting in class with all of them, never imagined this to happen," said fellow student Hailey Shilling.

A motorcycle ride to benefit the Franklin Strong fund will be held on Sunday, June 22 at 10:00 am. The proceeds will benefit the families of Jason Moran, Michael Chadbourne and Sarah Mclevish.

Tickets are $25 with $10 for each additional rider. The ride begins at Franklin Community High School and ends at the Time Out Bar & Grill where the fundraiser will be held. Live entertainment and under-21-friendly. Check in for the ride at 9:00 am.

Also, a ten-percent donation night will be held for Franklin Strong on Monday, June 16th, from 4 to 10 pm at the Texas Roadhouse at 270 S. Marlin Drive. Ten-percent of all food purchases will go towards the fundraiser.

Also on Monday from 5-9:30 pm, Chicago's Pizza in Franklin will donate 15 percent of the night's total profits to the Franklin Strong fund. Be sure to mention Franklin Strong when you order for dine-in or carry-out.