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Family Grieves Loss Of Teen Who Died Kayaking

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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MONTEVIDEO, Minn. (WCCO) – A community in western Minnesota is rallying around a grieving family.

Fifteen-year-old Brennon Johnson was kayaking this past weekend when he drowned on Lobster Lake in Douglas County. He was wearing his life jacket but couldn’t be saved.

For his parents, Jazell and Jeff Holverson, the reality of losing their only child isn’t easy to accept, especially because Brennon was so full of life.

“It’s not fair. It’s not fair that I can’t ever see him again,” the boy’s mother said.

The active teenager lived to be outdoors. Biking, kayaking, running, hunting and fishing were among his favorite activities. His parents say their son had a curiosity that always kept him on the go.

“He loved to be anywhere where there was nature,” Jazell said.

This summer, the family took weekend trips to Lobster Lake where Brennon always looked for an opportunity to get on the water to kayak.

“It was nothing to be gone for hours just kayaking around the lake,” Jazell said.

“He had that kayak for three years so he knew it inside and out,” his father said. “It wasn’t new to him.”

On Sunday, Brennon went out on the water around 12:30 p.m. When he didn’t return by 2 p.m., his parents started looking for him.

“I felt it in my heart that he wasn’t with us anymore. I felt it,” Jazell said. “I knew something was wrong, seriously wrong.”

Brennon’s kayak was eventually located on the water. The teenager was still inside.

“I looked at the law enforcement officer and I said, ‘Is he OK? Is my baby OK? Is my baby OK?'” Jazell said. “And he said, ‘I’m not going to lie to you, he’s gone.'”

The sudden loss was made more difficult knowing their safety conscious son always wore a life jacket.

“He had it on. It was secure,” Jazell said. “He even, inside, had a whistle if there was some distress.”

Brennon’s parents don’t think they’ll ever know what exactly went wrong.

As the Holversons navigate the burden of grief, cards, pictures, and well wishes from the community offer some comfort.

“He’ll always be remembered and loved. I don’t think he’ll ever be forgotten,” Jazell said. “We never realized, truly, how many lives Brennon touched.”

A 5K run is scheduled for this Saturday in Brennon’s honor. The run will begin at 8 a.m. at Montevideo High School and is open to the public.

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