Mother of hospitalized Franklin student opens up about drowning tragedy

Sarah McLevish
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Friday marks two weeks since tragedy struck five Franklin teenagers who celebrated the end of school with a trip to Edinburgh and The Big Blue River.

At one point, Sarah McLevish, 16, became trapped in the waters of the dam. Four boys went in the water to rescue her, a heroic effort that cost two boys their lives.

"It's like the worst feeling you would ever imagine in your gut," said Bobbi Hubbard, McLevish's mom, speaking to WTHR on Friday.

Crews searched the water for three days before they recovered the body of Jason Moran, 17. Michael Chadbourne was immediately pulled from the water, but was hospitalized for several days until he lost his fight.

Two other teenagers were not injured.McLevish remains hospitalized in critical condition, as support continues to grow in Franklin with blue and white ribbons everywhere.

"That has been absolutely amazing to see people pull together for all of the kids and all of the families. It's a little overwhelming but in a good way," Hubbard said.

While Hubbard hasn't been in Johnson County much, she feels the support.

After being rescued from the water unresponsive, 16-year-old Sarah McLevish has been in critical condition ever since.

"We've seen little things here and there as far as eyes opening," Hubbard said.

The swelling has gone down from Sarah's brain as she remains on a ventilator.

"We have met her halfway she needs to meet us halfway. I talk to her like I would if she was just sitting there being her little sassy self sometimes," Hubbard said.

Pictures taken by her older sister show the 16-year-old high school junior full of life. Loved ones are optimistic she'll be the same spontaneous person soon.

"We have had people from Australia, from Afghanistan, some soldiers from different areas that have responded and said they are pulling for her," Hubbard said.

Wearing bracelets of support, Bobbi has found her own support.

"Initially it was pretty difficult emotionally and there are still times where I have my moments but I just keep my faith and my faith has gotten stronger every day," Hubbard said. And as she prays her daughter gets stronger, she finds comfort from others.

"Just reading the inspirational stories people have responded on Sarah's page about they may have had a family member who may have had something similar and the outcome they may have had," Hubbard said.

She's anxious to return to a community with her daughter better than ever.

"We can feel the prayers and we know everybody is thinking of us and pulling for us so it makes a huge difference for us and it means a lot," Hubbard said.

In addition to various fundraisers, these two online accounts have been set up for McLevish:

When Sarah Smiles

Prayers for Sarah

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.