Fort Bend ISD football player drowns in Brazos River


The post-practice swim turned into tragedy for a group of Travis High School students. The teammates went to cool off Friday morning near Pecan Grove when 17-year-old Benjamin Ola went under and never came back up.

It's the most tragic moment any parent could imagine -- having to look at a dead body and tell authorities if it is that of your son. That is what Isaac Ola came to do after divers recovered his son's body in the Brazos River.

"He was very brilliant, nice, very respectful and a loving boy," Isaac Ola told Eyewitness News.

Isaac Ola says he still has many questions about what investigators have told him about what happened Friday morning, especially because his son was a lifeguard.

"The divers recovered the body of a black male teenager from the area where the football players were swimming Friday morning," said Sgt. Lowell Neinast of the Richmond Police Department.

The bright student and enthusiastic football player is believed to have drowned after swimming with four football friends. The search lasted more than six hours and ended the way everyone hoped it would not.

"His goal was to go on and play football. He really worked hard this summer. This is just devastating for us," said family friend Victoria Smith.

The five student-athletes all knew how to swim, but the Brazos is dangerous, even for strong swimmers. It appears it was just too much for Ola, who slipped off of a log the teens were on and was unable to fight the current. Police say his friends didn't try to rescue him because they did not realize he was drowning.

"They saw him come up, take a breath of air, and they thought he was swimming," said Sgt. Neinast.

Ola's family, friends, and classmates are broken hearted and shocked. Travis High School's football team and all of its groups have canceled activities indefinitely as they try to cope with the news of a promising young life cut short in an accident that did not have to happen.

"Don't risk your life coming out here and doing something like this," Sgt. Neinast said.

Ft. Bend Co. ISD released a statement Friday evening saying, "Fort Bend ISD is saddened to report that today the Travis High School family lost one of its 11th grade students, Benjamin Ola, in a tragic accident. This news has saddened our staff and our students, and our hearts and prayers go out to the family. District crisis teams and the entire Travis High School staff worked closely with Travis students today."

The school district says Ola was a junior varsity football player and a member of the Marine JROTC.

They said they will be providing counselors and staff for students who want to talk on Saturday until 1pm at the Travis Field House.

All student activities at Travis High School have been canceled this weekend, the school district said.

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