Elijah Spratt had just started to walk when he wanted to swim. A little boy known as "the Fish," Elijah loved the water and knew its dangers. Those dangers took his young life as he was swept under by the Stillaguamish River on Sunday.
“I just think of how scared he was when he was trying to hang onto that log and fight,” said his step-mother J.J. Edwards. “And just thinking of him trying to get up and out, yelling for help....”
Elijah was a strong swimmer, having spent plenty of time on Lake Chelan and on nearby rivers. His parents say he always wore his life vest.
“He was the safest kid,” said Edwards of the energetic 10-year-old. “He used to wear the vest just walking along the beach.”
The one time he wasn't wearing it was the one time he needed it. The vest was at the home of Edwards and the boy’s biological father, Daryl Inburgia, when he went to the river with a foster family to cool off. Inburgia is still numb.
“I still don't quite grasp that he's gone...that we're not going to see him again,” he said.
All they have left of their boy are memories and a few keepsakes, like his prized football helmet. Just days after Elijah’s death, though, his parents already working to collect 500 life jackets to be left for anyone who needs them in a soon-to-be-built shed along the river where their boy drowned.
For them, it would be a small triumph in the in the face of such tragedy.
“Until you feel it, losing a child is the worst pain ever,” said Edwards. “He had to be so scared, and that's why I so badly want to get across to parents that no matter how old they are, never take your eyes off the child, and always make sure they have on a life jacket.”
More information on how you can help with the life vest drive can be found online or by emailing J.J. Edwards at jjedwards53 @ yahoo.com.