Sweet Home remembers child killed in jet ski accident

Linn County deputies said the 23-year-old man riding the jet ski was stopped on the water when he fell off while "adjusting some equipment." The jet ski then sped off, hitting the two children

Posted: Jul 24, 2020 6:33 PM

SWEET HOME, Ore. -- The Sweet Home community is banding together after the death of 6-year-old Zach Maynard who was hit by a jet ski in an tragic accident on Monday at Foster Reservoir. 

A parade of people welcomed the Maynard family back on Friday.

Zach's death was confirmed on Thursday by the family's pastor. He and 6-year-old Kennedy Swenson had both been hospitalized in Portland with life-threatening injuries. Kennedy was expected to come home on Friday.

Kennedy's mother says Zach pushed her daughter out of the way moments before the jet ski hit them both. Zach is a hero, and that's how he'll be remembered by this community.

"Zachary just stole out hearts because he was so kind and so loving," said Susie Burns, Zach and Kennedy's teacher. "They were happy when they were together. Everyone who thinks of Zach thinks of Kennedy."

Sweet Home residents said Zach is being remembered as a light in the community.

"We had two Linn County deputies, two Sweet Home officers, a whole bunch of ODF employees come down with their rigs, we had some Mohawk employees come down with their rigs and then we had two of our ambulances, our ladder truck, and our engine and one of our tenders that joined, said Tanner Funk, a Sweet Home firefighter."

The community is continuing to step up.

"We wanted to do something. There's so much tragedy and we just wanted to help," said Leeona Cruz, who lives in the same neighborhood as the Maynards and Swensons and helped organize a bottle drop.

Cruz was at the lake the day the accident happened, along with some friends.

The group wanted to do anything they could to show support so they organized a bottle and can drop at O'Reilly's Auto Parts in Sweet Home for Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Truck loads of bags area already coming in.

"It has been more than we ever expected -- and if it were one of us? It could have been any one of us," said Shelly Martineau, another organizer. 

Little Promises -- Zach and Kennedy's preschool and kindergarten -- is also stepping up, organizing a walkathon for the two on Aug. 1.

Linn County deputies said the 23-year-old man riding the jet ski was stopped on the water when he fell off while "adjusting some equipment." The jet ski then sped off, hitting the two children as it continued to the west side of the swimming area. It eventually crashed into the bank. 

The man is cooperating with the investigation.

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