Update: Tuesday's Argus Observer incorrectly stated the funeral time for Joshua Kenley. Kenley's services begin at 10 a.m.

Weiser — A Weiser teen who drowned at Mann Creek Reservoir last week was a bright and musically gifted young man.

Joshua Kenley, 16, who would have been a high school sophomore in the upcoming school year, had been involved in both choir and acting since he was in middle school, according to Mike Turner, Weiser High School’s choir teacher.

Kenley was heavily involved in all of the school’s musical productions and was a singer in the school’s top group, The Chamber Singers.

“He really enjoyed music and theater, and he was really good at it, too,” Turner said. “He truly was an up and coming performer. This is very tragic.”

Friday evening, around 6:45 p.m., the Washington County Sheriff’s Office received a call that someone went under the water at Mann Creek Reservoir and did not resurface. Around 9 p.m. that same night, police recovered Kenley’s body.

Washington County Sheriff Matt Thomas said that Kenley was riding on the back of a jet ski with a friend when he was dropped off about 20 feet from the dock, but he was unable to swim back and drowned.

A witness stated that Kenley struggled in the water, went under once, then came back up briefly before going under a second time and never resurfaced.

Thomas said that while riding the jet ski, Kenley was wearing a life jacket, however, he took it off prior to entering the water to swim back to the dock.

The sheriff said his parents believed Kenley to be a strong swimmer and that the sheriff’s deputies are investigating whether Kenley could have been dehydrated or any other potential causes.

At this time, police have ruled out any suspicious activity or circumstances surrounding the drowning.

“This is just a really tragic accident,” Thomas said.

Services for Kenley will be held at the LDS church, 300 E. Main St., Wednesday at 10 a.m., and Turner is currently putting together a choir of youths to sing during the service. There will be a rehearsal at 6 p.m. today at the church for anyone interested in participating.

Turner, whose son was friends with Kenley, anticipates a rather large group. Any youths interested in participating in the choir to sing at Kenley’s service is welcome, and encouraged, to attend the rehearsal.

Turner said that the rehearsal is expected to last about 45 minutes, and that this is a great way to help honor the memory of the Kenley.

“He was just a great kid,” Turner said. “Really nice, the best of attitudes. Just one of the best kids you’d ever want to meet.”

There have been several drownings this year in both Oregon and Idaho, and law enforcement reminds the public about some general safety issues they encounter during this warmer months.

Due to how low the reservoirs are this year, boaters and swimmers tend to lose sight that the water is still deep enough to drown in, a representative with the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office said. Life preservers are required to be present for each individual on a motorized watercraft and it is highly recommended that they be worn at all times, especially by individuals who are weak swimmers.

Thomas also stressed the importance of wearing life jackets and said that it’s very important to know your limits while in the water.

Mann Creek Reservoir has not had a drowning in several years Thomas said, and the area is monitored fairly regularly by the sheriff’s office.

William Lopez is a news reporter at the Argus Observer. He can be reached at (541) 823-4815 or by emailing willl@argusobserver.com. To comment on this story, go to www.argusobserver.com

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Anonymous Commenter
Anonymous Commenter

This is Josh's Dad, The services are actually being held at 10am and not 11am with the viewing at 9am. I would like to thank Mike Turner for the wonderful comments, Josh was an amazing young man. the sheriff's comments are a little lacking and misleading. there is a little more to the story, no one is at fault, it was just a horrible accident, even the best swimmers can find themselves in a bad situation.