Bodies of missing swimmers found at Pennington Creek identified

TISHOMINGO, Okla. (KXII) - Johnston County EMS Director Kenny Power says it was around 7 p.m. Tuesday night when the first teen, 17-year-old James Dewayne Braxton was recovered from the creek near the bridge on Capitol Street.

Wednesday around 11 a.m. Oklahoma Highway Patrol divers found the second missing teen, 18-year-old Van Denny Hicks about 200 yards south of the dam.

We're told both teens are from Carter County.

Braxton was a student at Dickson schools and Hicks had just graduated from Dickson a year ago.

Residents like Bubby Moore were saddened to hear the news about the recovery but were pleased to see officials doing everything they could to try to find the missing swimmers.

"When a call like that comes out, everyone's ears are open and everybody's boots are put in place and are in motion," Moore said. "It's not a second thought, it's a reaction to it for these guys."

The young men were last heard from Sunday when they texted a group of friends they were going to go swimming at Pennington Creek.

Officials started searching the land immediately and early Monday morning put search and rescue crews in the water.

Monday crews reported they found the car belonging to one of the teens that had their cellphones and clothes inside.

They also said they found the keys on the shore and footprints leading into the water.

Tuesday the search was suspended for about 30 minutes while a storm passed through.

Crews continued their search efforts throughout the day and into the night using lights for better visibility in the creek.

Power says the heavy rainfall the county got Sunday and Tuesday caused the water level in the creek to rise - making it difficult to find the teens and dangerous at times for rescue workers.

He says just from Sunday to Monday the water had lowered about 8 to 10 ft. - fluctuation that helped them find the bodies.

"That's what they were hoping for is that they would move it around and possibly bring them up to the top surface and of course as it came down they were able to find the second gentleman," Power said.

News of the search and recovery caused locals to come together to try to help by either searching themselves or donating water and food to rescue workers.

"When they go out on an extended mission, everyone in this community comes together as one - everybody- that's not a question," Moore said. "It's just what do they need, where do they need it at, that's what everybody asks."

Power says he is proud of the work and effort all the different agencies put in in bringing these families some answers.

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