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RIP Tayler Andrew Loch.....my cousin
Teen's body pulled from pipe
This story was published Monday, October 2nd, 2006
By Mary Hopkin, Herald staff writer
A game of paintball followed by a late afternoon swim ended in tragedy for a Mid-Columbia teenage boy Sunday.
Sgt. Scott Child of the Kennewick Police Department said a group of four local boys, ages 13 to 15, were playing paintball in the sagebrush- covered hills between Kennewick and Richland, north of the railroad tracks.
Child said the boys got into a Kennewick Irrigation District canal that runs through a large irrigation pipe, about 5 feet tall and 50 to 75 yards long, under the railroad tracks and dumps into a pond.
"They each slid through the pipe and the last juvenile didn't come out," Child said.
Child said the water inside the pipe was about 3 feet deep and "pretty swift."
The other teens looked for their friend, then told their parents what had happened.
Child said the Kennewick Police Department received a call about a missing juvenile about 6:20 p.m. and started searching the area. The Kennewick Fire Department, Mid-Columbia Dive Rescue, canine units and Richland's police and fire departments were called to help.
Battalion Chief Vince Beasley, of the Kennewick Fire Department, said a T-shirt and a tennis shoe, that may have belonged to the boy had been found.
Police and firefighters searched the area for nearly three hours in the dark, using flashlights to search the rough, steep hills in the dark.
Search volunteers trickled in and waited in a dusty lot overlooking the area behind Basin Feed and Supply off Clearwater Avenue in Kennewick, where a handful a police cars and emergency vehicles were staged.
About 10 p.m. a woman's scream cut through the darkness, followed by sobbing.
Child said the body of the 13-year-old boy, whose name was not released, was found inside the pipe. His parents were at the scene when the body was recovered, he said.
"This is an ongoing investigation, but obviously, it's a tragedy," said Child.
The names and hometowns of the deceased teen and his friends were not released.
The Benton County Coroners Office will determine the cause of death, he added.

Kennewick school deals with student's death
This story was published Monday, October 2nd, 2006

By the Herald staff

Counselors and staff at Desert Hills Middle School in Kennewick are assisting students today, a day after one of their classmates died in an irrigation pipe in an apparent drowning.

Kennewick Police Department identified Taylor Loch, 13, of Kennewick, as Sunday's victim. He and three classmates had played a game of paintball near the area of the 9200 block of West Clearwater known as "Beer Falls" when they decided to cool off in a Kennewick Irrigation District canal. That stretch of canal runs through a large irrigation pipe -- about 5 feet tall and 50 to 75 yards long -- under the railroad tracks and dumps into a pond.

Kennewick Police Sgt. Ken Lattin reported that Taylor was the last to enter the drain pipe but failed to come out of the other end with his friends.

Fire departments from Kennewick and Richland, Richland Police and Mid-Columbia Dive Rescue assisted with a search of the area. Taylor's body was discovered in the irrigation pipe about 10 p.m. Sunday. Lattin said the investigation indicates one of Taylor's feet got caught and the current pulled him underwater.

Three of the boys were from Kennewick. The other was from Richland. None of the other boys were injured.

Boy's body found in Tri-Cities irrigation pipe
This story was published Monday, October 2nd, 2006

The Associated Press

KENNEWICK, Wash. (AP) - Police say a 13-year-old boy whose body was found in an irrigation pipe at Kennewick had been playing paintball with three other boys.

Sergeant Scott Child says yesterday afternoon they slid through a five-foot-tall irrigation pipe that goes under railroad tracks and into a pond. The water is about three feet deep and swift.

When the 13-year-old didn't come out, the other boys told their parents. Police and firefighters searched last night until they found the body in the dark, still inside the pipe. His foot was caught and he was pulled under water.

The boy has been identified as Taylor Loch, a student at Desert Hills Middle School.

(From Dennis Shannon, KONA)

13-year-old 'loved life'

Published Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

By Andrew Sirocchi, Herald staff writer

He was a popular 13-year-old who played football both ways for the Desert Hills Middle School Hawks, volunteered in the school cafeteria and liked to play paintball with his friends.

Tayler Loch of Kennewick was one of four boys who decided to cool off by swimming through an irrigation pipe behind Basin Feed off Clearwater Avenue on Sunday afternoon, but he was the only one not to come out.

It's a swim that has been done hundreds of times by others for decades without a problem.

But Tayler became snagged about 70 feet inside the large metal culvert, which crosses under railroad tracks separating Kennewick and Richland. He was apparently either caught by a log or by rocks at the bottom of the pipe.

The water is about 3 feet deep and moves rapidly through the metal pipe, which is about 6 feet in diameter.

Tayler's body was recovered by three dive and rescue members late Sunday night. An autopsy is scheduled today.

"With this force of water, it can only end in one way and that's tragedy," said Mark Allen of dive and rescue.

Stepfather Michael Heryford said Tayler had saved his baby-sitting money for a new paintball gun and had been invited to play in an area known as "Beer Falls" for only the second time. Tayler, a boy with short-cropped dark hair and a friendly smile, couldn't resist an opportunity to be athletic and active, Heryford said.

"Tayler wasn't one to sit at home and play video games and watch TV," Heryford said. "Tayler loved life. He liked paintball, football, baseball, anything he could do to get out and be active, especially among other kids his age."

He played wide receiver and defensive back for his middle school team. The second-oldest son in a family of five brothers and one sister, Tayler also was becoming responsible for his age.

In seventh grade, he agreed to volunteer at the school cafeteria, and while he wanted to quit to spend his lunch time doing other things, Heryford said Tayler couldn't refuse when he was asked to join again.

"That's the way he was," Heryford said. "He would help out that way."

Students at Desert Hills were shocked by the news Monday of Tayler's death, and Assistant Principal Dan Meyer estimated 10 kids went home to grieve.

Another 40 to 50 spoke with counselors brought in from other area schools to help children cope with the tragedy. Meyer said he only knew Tayler in passing but considered him warm and friendly.

"I passed him in the lunch lines and he said hi to us almost daily," Meyer said.

Rich Buel, a spokesman for the Kennewick School District, said administrators also sent a letter home with students indicating that if parents believed their children needed more time to grieve, their absences would be excused.

Beth Smith, of the Kennewick Irrigation District, said KID staff and management were reviewing safety measures at the canal, but had not come to any decision about whether to add grating or fencing across the irrigation pipe on the 9200 block of Clearwater Avenue.

Smith said KID has an education program targeted at teaching elementary school students not to play in irrigation canals. The program, known as Otto the Otter, is held in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and it tours district elementary schools.

"Every year, the Kennewick Irrigation District and many other irrigation districts around the country spend a great deal of time, effort and money reminding people that canals are not places to play," KID said in a news release. "It's been years since there has been a tragedy like this in the KID. We are thankful for that, even as we deal with the events of this last weekend."

But keeping people out of irrigation canals and culverts is difficult.

Flanked by Russian olive trees, poplars and sagebrush, the irrigation canal is an inviting playground for children and adults. For decades, the area has been a popular recreation area for ATV riders, hikers and paintball warriors.

A dip in the irrigation canal to cool off is not uncommon.

Richland Police Department Capt. Mike Cobb said he played there as a high school student in 1974, and he sees many continuing to do the same. Sgt. Ken Lattin of the Kennewick Police Department said the area on the Kennewick side of the railroad tracks also is popular.

But officials warn that the rapidly moving water can be deadly.

"When you're going over running water, you can get your foot stuck under something and it will push you underwater, even with a life jacket," said dive and rescue's Allen.

Tayler is survived by four brothers, a sister, grandmother, his mother Jody, stepfather Heryford and father Jeff Loch.

A memorial service is planned at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the First Baptist Church in Kennewick, 3700 W. 27th Ave. A second service and burial is planned in Billings, Mont., this weekend, where Tayler's father and three of his brothers live.

Hundreds mourn teen who drowned
This story was published Thursday, October 5th, 2006

By Andrew Sirocchi, Herald staff writer

They framed his football jersey, placed a baseball bat under the altar, displayed a motocross helmet and a nearly new pair of sneakers that looked too big for a 13-year-old boy across a table that stretched in front of the stage of Kennewick's First Baptist Church.

The items that told who Tayler Loch was the best were the ones that gave the teenager the most joy in his life and were left in plain view of nearly 700 people who gathered Wednesday for a memorial service.

Inside the church sanctuary, nearly all the aisles were filled with grieving friends who mourned the teen who drowned Sunday in a Kennewick Irrigation District culvert.

Tayler's mother, Jody Heryford, her husband Mike, and other members of the large family were joined by the boy's football team, a large part of the eighth-grade class from Desert Hills Middle School, administrators and teachers.

Together they shared prayers, tears and laughter but mostly a unified memory of a boy who seemed to make friends with everyone he met.

"Tayler had tons of friends," wrote his brother, Jayce, in a letter from Billings, Mont., where Tayler will be buried this weekend. "He loved everyone and everyone loved him."

Pictures told Tayler's story the best.

He wore a broad smile holding two large fish from the gills, stretched out on a trampoline with his brother and sister, put on a serious face for a picture in his baseball uniform and gave a shy smile to the camera holding two kittens. He loved sports and nearly anything that gave him the chance to be athletic.

"He of all people would have been most upset that we're doing this because it would have cost him a football game," said Ben Schuldheisz, a counselor and football coach at Desert Hills.

Born in Lewistown, Mont., to Jeff Loch and Jody Heryford, Tayler moved to Kennewick three years ago.

Collin Bampton, 13, met Tayler in classes just this year but said the mark he left on acquaintances was immediate.

"He was just really friendly," Bampton said. "He was friends with everybody."

Steven Havenor, 14, met Tayler in sixth grade when the boy first moved to the Tri-Cities after leaving Montana. The two became good friends and both were members of the Hawks football team this year. Tayler played wide receiver and defensive back.

Havenor said his fondest memory will remain of a class project the two worked on when they were studying Germany.

"We baked a chocolate cake," Havenor said. "We took it to school but half of it was gone before it got there."

The team members signed a football and gave it to the family. The Hawks also are considering adding a special token to their own helmets or jerseys, Havenor said, perhaps Tayler's number 26.

On Sunday, Tayler and three friends went to the popular Beer Falls area to play paintball wars. It was a favorite pastime for the boy who had recently expressed pride to his friends and family for saving up his baby- sitting money for a new paintball gun.

His stepfather, Mike Heryford, said Sunday was only the second time Tayler had gone to the area.

Late in the afternoon, the boys decided to cool off in an irrigation canal and allow the rapid current to shoot them through a large culvert that passed under railroad tracks separating Kennewick and Richland. Three of the boys made it through fine.

Officials said something snagged Tayler's shoelaces about 70 feet inside the metal pipe. The rapidly moving water pushed him under and kept him from freeing himself.

Kris Giroux, 13, an eighth-grader at Desert Hills, said he would have gone to play paintball with the group on Sunday but had to stay at home to work with his dad. The Beer Falls area is a popular spot for paintball, he said.

Thick brush and Russian olives meandering alongside the irrigation canal's banks create a natural playground for adults and children. Giroux said the area will remain popular, although he hoped others would think twice about jumping in the water.

"I think people will be more cautious from now on," he said.

And they won't soon forget Tayler Loch.

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