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Father of Iowa Park woman
drowns while saving child

Kenneth B. Cowart, of Denison, father of Shelby Elizabeth Cowart Hessinger of Iowa Park, lost his life Saturday afternoon while saving the life of another person. He was the nephew of Tom and Wanda Cowart, also of Iowa Park.

According to a story in the Denison Herald Democrat, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Marine Enforcement Trooper Danny Chaffin reported that Mr. Cowart, age 38, was on the shore of Red River, just below the Denison Dam bridge when, about 3:30 p.m., he saw or heard a child in trouble in the water. The report states that the child was with another child and an adult in the water, and the trio was having a hard time making it back to shore. The man and the other child were able to get out of the water safely, but the second child was still in the water. Mr. Cowart, not with the group,went into the lake and made his way to the child in danger.

Mr. Cowart and the child were on their way back toward the shore when he stepped into a spot in the river that was, at 8 feet, deeper than the area around them. There was also a stronger current there, and it appeared to get them off balance. Mr. Cowart was able to push the child across the strong current toward shore but then went under water himself and was swept away.

Teams of search and rescue units were summoned, including Denison Fire Department’s boat patrol. Assistant Fire Chief Bill Ray explained that currents below the dam are sometimes affected by the generators, once they are turned off. The water drains down river and creates more current.

Denison FD’s boat patrol first spotted the body and threw a marker to it, then went to turn the boat around for an effective retrieval. When they returned, the current had moved marker and the body, and they found them again, closer to shore. They retrieved the body and turned it over to Oklahoma authorities, including the state’s medical examiner.



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