FRANKIN COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) – Two boys drowned in a private pond in St. Clair, Missouri Sunday.
The boys, 7-year-old Cleveland Hicks and 8-year-old Terrence Hicks, went bike riding on private property and did not return home when they were expected, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Concerned, family members went searching for the boys. A family member reportedly found Cleveland floating in the private pond in the 400 block of Walls Ford Road just after noon Sunday. Divers then found Terrance shortly after.
Both boys were pronounced dead later in the day at the hospital.
The deaths left those who knew the boys crushed.
“It’s just a shock to me, it’s going to be hard to get over for a long time,” said 93-year-old Opal Kamper.
For two years, the highlight of Kamper’s day was chatting with the two boys when they passed her home on their way to and from school.
“They would stop by in the evenings and visit with me and I would always give them a hug and they would hug me,” she said. “I would always say ‘I love ya.’ I told them, ‘I love you,’ they knew I loved loved them.”
Kamper knew something was wrong Sunday when she heard police chatter over her scanner. When she saw first responders flood the area and head to her neighbor’s home, she feared the worst.
Later that afternoon, she found out those fears came true.
Now she grieves alongside the boys’ family and friends, reminded that the tragedy happened just days before Christmas.
“I had their Christmas gifts ready for them,” Kamper said through tears. “And I thought, ‘Oh I won’t get to give it to them.'”
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