LOCAL NEWS

Tooele community supporting family of teen who drowned in reservoir

Feb 14, 2023, 11:27 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2023, 2:45 pm

TOOELE, Utah — The Tooele community is coming together to support the family of a 14-year-old boy who drowned after falling through ice at Settlement Canyon Reservoir. One family friend has come up with a few ways people can honor Jayden Davis while helping his parents with funeral expenses, as the tight-knit community copes with his death.

He may have been a freshman, but the 14-year-old was already becoming a star player on the Tooele High School Varsity Football team. Kendyl Ballard has dozens of videos showing Jayden on the football field last fall, playing mostly quarterback. But he was also known to play safety, running back, corner and linebacker.

“He was just kind of a go-getter,” Ballard said. “He wanted to be involved in everything, and especially when it involved his loves — his basketball and football and his friends.”

Ballard described the boy she watched grow up alongside her son as outgoing and funny, with everyone wanting to be his friend.

The Tooele High football mom often saw Jayden outside of school sports, whether it was at school dances or when all the kids would hang out.

Last week, Ballard — who is a photographer — took family photos of Jayden’s family. At one point, they sat in the kitchen talking about Jayden’s future and his life.

Photo of Jayden Davis. (Courtesy: Kendyl Ballard)

Never did Ballard think that just days later, she’d be sharing those photos to remember him. Jayden died Monday evening after falling through ice while with friends at Settlement Canyon Reservoir.

“It’s kind of the ‘kids just being kids’ scenario, something that ends tragically,” Ballard said, getting emotional.

Search and rescue crews recover body of teen who fell through ice at Tooele reservoir

She described the news of Jayden’s death as a punch in the gut — one that’s left her son devastated.

“It’s a hard conversation, and especially for somebody who is so young and had so much ahead of him,” Ballard said.

With the Tooele community reeling from what happened to Jayden, Ballard began to get text messages from parents and community members.

“I have so many people that are already reaching out to me that want to support this family that we love so much, so why not support them and just do what we can?” she said.

Fundraiser for Jayden Davis’ family. (Courtesy: Kendyl Ballard)

Holding up her phone, Ballard showed a purple buffalo design — Tooele’s mascot — that will be printed on T-shirts for a fundraiser. The buffalo is surrounded by a tweaked version of the high school’s slogan from its fight song, “Forever and forever in Tooele.”

The design has Jayden’s initials and reads, “Forever and Forever In Our Hearts.”

T-shirts are $20 for adult sizes S-XL, with orders accepted until Feb. 17. Payment with sizing can be sent to @aballard1427 on Venmo.

In just a couple hours’ time, Ballard and her husband Andrew said they’d already received a few thousand dollars worth of T-shirt orders.

Ballard said people can also send funds to help with funeral costs directly to Jayden’s mother, Kristen Porter, through Venmo at @Kristen-joy-88.

In addition to a T-shirt fundraiser, Ballard organized a meal train that the basketball and football families have already filled up through March. She is also putting together a memorial balloon release event, that, right now, is planned for Friday at 6 p.m. on the Tooele High School football field.

To them, the outreach and support is showing, “How much Jayden was loved,” Ballard said. “He truly was.”

‘He was a pretty good kid,’ grandfather of Tooele teen remembers his grandson

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Tooele community supporting family of teen who drowned in reservoir