Family, Friends Remember 4 Kids Who Drowned During Church Outing

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- The mother of 4 drowning victims spent the 7 year anniversary of the tragedy with family and friends.

Edris Griffin lost one daughter and three sons to the waters of the Meramec River in 2006.

Dana Johnson was 13, Damon Johnson was 17, Ryan Mason was 14 and Bryant Barnes was 10.  They were part of a church group outing at Castlewood State Park when they wandered into the water.

“We have good days and bad days,” said Griffin.

She gathered family and friends inside her north St. Louis house to celebrate the life they still have.  She credits her faith and the support from loved ones for staying strong.

Relatives lit candles shortly after 9pm to remember the victims and to remember that life goes on.  Earlier in the day they wrote messages on balloons filled with helium and released them.

“Enjoy each other while you’re together because you never know,” said Leslie Griffin, Edris’ husband.

The tragedy has been tough on surviving brothers and sisters.  Danielle Johnson was moved to tears thinking about the loss of her younger siblings.  She said, “Don’t take life for granted. Try to have fun.”

Bryana Barnes was 10 years old when her siblings drowned.  She started to tear up as she wished she could have spent more time with her brothers and sister before they drowned.

Donnell Johnson was with his siblings the day they drowned. He said the tragedy has given him a mission, “To enjoy life and try and better it in any way possible.”

Edris Griffin has a hard time comprehending some of the senseless violence she sees on the news.

“We have to love while we can and cherish each other while we can.”

She would also like to see more warnings signs along the Meramec River to keep swimmers out.


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