Seth Andrew Carnahan became a Christian in the second grade.
Sometimes children his age don't seem to grasp that concept, said Seth's mom, Lisa Lamb. But Seth talked for a year about giving his life to God.
"He knew," Lamb said.
Now Seth's family clings to the hope that the 13-year-old is with the God he found at a young age, Lamb said.
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"It's killing me," she said. But "I know that God has got him in his arms."
Seth fell into North Elkhorn Creek in Scott County on Saturday afternoon while crossing a low-head dam at Great Crossing Park. His body was recovered Monday about 100 yards upstream from another dam a few miles away in Scott County. The coroner's office ruled that drowning was the cause of death.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, the Scott County Sheriff's Office and Kentucky State Police conducted the search. But many friends, neighbors, Scott County residents and private companies volunteered services, support and food. Lamb began to list the people and agencies involved, but she had to stop. There were just so many, she said, that she was afraid she would forget someone.
"It was an example of people rising up in a time of need and showing their love and support, and it meant so much to us," she said.
Friends and family spent Tuesday attempting to cope with Seth's death.
Seth would have been an eighth-grade student at Anderson County Middle School on Tuesday, the first day of class. The school stationed grief counselors in the library to be available to students who needed to talk about Seth, Anderson Middle School principal Steve Karsner said.
"It is a little bit of a somber mood today, but our students are accepting it and learning how to deal with it," Karsner said.
Seth made friends easily at the school. He transferred from Scott County Middle School in February, "and probably within a month or two knew everybody in that grade," Karsner said.
Seth had practiced for three weeks this summer with the school's football team in preparation for the fall season, Karsner said. The team decided Monday night to proceed without Seth.
"They knew that Seth would want them to play," Karsner said.
For the past few days, people have told Lamb stories about their experiences with her son, a boy they described as fun-loving, friendly and respectful, she said. Loved ones and strangers have also left kind messages online.
"He had a really big heart, and the outpouring and the love shown for him, I know he saw that," Lamb said. "I know he did."
In addition to his mother, Seth is survived by his father, Mike Carnahan; stepfather, Doug Lamb; stepmother, Sherry Carnahan; brother, Jarrod Michael Carnahan; two stepbrothers, Michael Harper and Jared Travis; and a stepsister, Tiffany Harper.
Visitation will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday and noon to 1 p.m. Friday at Harmony Christian Church in Georgetown. Services will be at 1 p.m. Friday at the church.
Also, Scott County Middle School students will hold a memorial for Seth at 2 p.m. Sunday at the middle school.