Hundreds Mourn Deaths of Two Small Boys

Post a Comment » Written on July 11th, 2007     
Filed under: News
SCAMMON BAY, AK (July 11, 2007) – Hundreds of people from across Alaska attended the funeral held Monday afternoon for two boys who drowned here Friday.

BoysThe funeral for Reamon Utteryak, 8, and his brother, Reichel, 10, was one of the largest in the history of the community, says Jon Cardwell, pastor of Scammon Bay Covenant Church, where the family attends. The service was held in the old high school gymnasium in order to accommodate the crowd.

The boys had been playing on the shoreline of the Kun River when Reamon slipped on some rocks. Reichel jumped into the water to save his brother and was able to help two young cousins bring Reamon’s unconscious body to the shore, Cardwell says.

Reichel was too exhausted to climb out of the water, however, and drowned. Searchers found his body the next morning about 150 feet away. The accompanying photos show Reichel, holding the bowl, and his brother, as well as an aerial photo showing the village and its proximity to the river where the boys drowned.

None of the boys knew how to swim. Although the village is near the water, most people don’t learn to swim because the water is too cold even in summer.

The boys’ parents, John and Carolyn Uttereyek, were subsistence fishing at their fish camp on the Black River 40 miles north of Scammon Bay when the tragedy struck, Cardwell says.

“The entire community was touched by the lives of these two boys,” the pastor noted. “These boys were the best of kids in this village,” Cardwell says. “They loved one another, and they were well behaved. Reaman always had a smile.”

VillageRoughly 500 people live in the village, where the average age is 18, Cardwell says. Many of the people are related to one another.

The family has been active in the congregation, and John is the church chairman. At the parents’ request, the Sunday morning worship service was held in their home. Cardwell says he had not intended for the service to be a memorial service, but that the boys’ lives, including Reichel’s sacrifice, were models for Christians.

Weeping during his sermon, Cardwell said that while he knew the boys were with God, “I cry out of sadness because these kids did more to touch people’s lives with joy than a lot of people will touch for a lifetime.”

He also noted how the parents had responded to the deaths. “John and Carolyn were so strong in their faith,” Cardwell says. “They were a comfort to others through this entire ordeal.”

Three other pastors attended the funeral: Rodney Sawyer, the Covenant’s field director for Alaska; Grant Funk, pastor of Hooper Bay Covenant Church; and Wass Mute, pastor of Koyuk Covenant Church and a former pastor of Scammon Bay.

The boys are survived by their parents and five siblings. Those wanting to help the family financially can send donations to the R & R Uttereyuk Memorial Fund in care of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska, P.O. Box 770749, Eagle River, AK, 99577-0749. For more information, call 907-694-6348. Please make checks payable to the Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska (or just ECCAK).

“This would tremendously help the family through the expense as this loss set them back financially,” Cardwell says. “They lost many days of fishing, not to mention the expense of flying materials in for the caskets.”

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