Families grieve over double drownings

By: Angela Starke Email
By: Angela Starke Email

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Easter weekend ended on a sad note for two families in East Tennessee. Each had a loved one who drowned at Douglas Lake in Jefferson County.

There are still questions about what happened, but Jefferson County Sheriff Bud McCoig says investigators are looking to see if the wake from a boat may be partially to blame.

Sheriff McCoig says the bodies of 13-year-old Charles Joseph Smith "CJ" of Sevierville and 23-year-old David O'Bryan Reed, known as Bryan, of Knoxville were pulled from Douglas Lake on Sunday evening.

Investigators say CJ may have panicked after seeing the boat's wake and called for help. That's when Bryan jumped in the water.

It was a devastating end to a holiday weekend, says Brad Dellinger, CJ's uncle.

"He was my best friend. He was my handyman. He loved to play. Basketball. He loved to play basketball. He was getting better and better and better at it."

On Monday, Dellinger tried to keep CJ's younger brothers Steven and Timothy busy and their minds off their loss with a game of baseball. Dellinger and CJ's stepdad Jerry Cooper say CJ would have enjoyed seeing his brothers play. He was the outdoors type.

"He was at the basketball goal two days ago. He made his first 3-point shot. He was all happy," Dellinger said.

"He was my stepson," according to Cooper. "Like any normal kid. He was good hearted and played his heart out. Would do whatever you wanted him to do."

Jordan Carter, 13, says he spent many afternoons outside with CJ and he and the other kids in this Sevierville neighborhood will miss him.

"We were pretty good friends. We would all run around the neighborhood and play together and play at the basketball court. Run around hang out," Carter said.

But today, the court sat empty. And from now on, one of its frequent visitors won't be here to play.

Bryan's family said he was on the swim team at Central High School and graduated from there in 2007. His father George Byrge said that David had a disability from a motorcycle accident a few years ago.

But Bryan told his dad that he would be his hero one day. His act of jumping in the water to save someone else makes him just that, Byrge said.

If you'd like to make a donation to CJ's burial expenses, you can mail donations or go by Rose's Mortuary at 1421 N. Broadway St., Knoxville 37917.

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