News 12 at 6:00, July 6, 2007
AUGUSTA, GA--A family is grieving today after their teenage son died in Clarks Hill Lake on the Fourth of July. Elliott Rivers' pastor tells News 12 he's known the family for a long time. Four of the six brothers were adopted, and he was there the day they brought Elliott home from Latvia.
"He was a son in a Latvian orphanage, and was abandoned. This family loved him, found him, and Elliot grew up in a nurturing environment where he really flourished." Said Associate Pastor John Franks.
Rivers went to high school at Westminster academy, and he was currently going to Georgia Southern University. Elliott Rivers' friends are also sharing their memories of him. They're all coming together to support his family and to remember a young man who always put others first.
Elliot rivers' friends pay tribute to him in a letter. It says "We all knew he was a very special person. His love for his family, friends, and life itself was hard to ignore."
"He would do anything for anyone. He would drop anything and do it for you." Said his friend, Mary Rob Plunkett.
She and her friends also loved the small things: "The 8 bottles of water he drank every day, the endless candy stash in his bookbag, and the soccer ball he could never put down."
"He was the best soccer player. It was his passion." Mary said.
Mary says Elliot was always on the field, and his father was right there with him. A newspaper clipping shows Mr. Rivers helped coach Westminster's soccer teams.
"He was really involved in all our lives, and he really had a big impact on us." Mary said.
The impact goes beyond the soccer field. Manuella Villa tells news 12: One time when she was sick, Elliot found her house, showed up with a dozen roses, and asked her to prom. She says his smile would light up the room, and you can see here just how much everyone loved him. More than 500 people have joined a new group on the website facebook dot com, which is dedicated to Elliott.
"He was a person you always wanted to be around, he was they guy with the biggest heart." Mary said.
Now, they're all coming together to say goodbye. The letter ends like this: "We love you Elliott, you will never be forgotten. " It's signed the class of 2006.
Friends and family also shared their memories with news 12.
Todd Rivers, brother: "People wanted to be with him. they always wanted him around. he was the light to our family."
Robert Webb, friend: "Everyone loved Elliott, he was the center of everyone, the center of our class."
David Hogan, friend: "He's the life of the party, he's the one to get it going."
Rhys Breazeale, friend: "If you wanted to do something, you called Elliott. You couldn't help but be drawn to him."
Margaret Houston, friend: "Elliott loved to give hugs. He was very giving, and always left surprises in our lockers."
Caroline Blalock, friend: "He's very generous with everything. That's why he had a lot of friends."
Mary Ford: "He was the person I would always go to, and he would always give advice."