UPDATE: Family Remembers Boy Who Drowned In Wichita's Big Ditch

By: KAKE News Email
By: KAKE News Email
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Sunday, August 11, 2013

After the body of 14-year-old Steven Burrow was pulled Sunday morning from Wichita's Big Ditch, his family remembered him for his big smile and kind heart.

"He gave great amounts of love and he gave the best hugs ever," said Audrey Burrow, Steven's mother.

Audrey says her son also loved to run and was looking forward to starting his freshman year at North High School.

"You hear it every day, 'Life is short.' But when you experience it and someone you love so much dies so young, you really do understand it and it's a pain I don't want anybody else to feel," said Ashleigh Burrow, Steven's sister.

The family returned to their home Saturday night for the first time since Steven had gone missing.

"I got to lay in his bed and I got to smell his pillow. Knowing he's not going to be back there in that place where he belongs, that's earth-shattering to me," Audrey said.

Steven went missing in the Big Ditch Friday morning after swimming there with friends.

The family says he had been helping his grandmother with a garage sale that morning. The family was trying to raise money after Steven's grandfather had a stroke. Steven and his family had recently moved away from the neighborhood so since they were in the area Friday, Steven had a rare opportunity to hang out with his friend, which he did after the sale.

Audrey says she eventually got a call from Steven asking if he could hang out with his friend a little longer.

"He said, 'O.K., I love you mom and did his (sound) that he makes every phone call," Audrey said. "That was the last time I heard my baby's voice."

For two days, days that she says were "torturous," crews searched the water. The family then got the news Sunday morning, water rescuers had found his body.

He was found about 200 yards from where he first went into the water, police said Sunday.

"Our hearts are broken," Audrey said. "We miss him. We want him to walk in the door and go back two days and none of this have happened."

She says the family has found some peace in knowing his body has been recovered.

"He's not cold anymore," Audrey said. "That's very, very important."

They say they want to thank all of the departments and people who searched the waters. They also expressed gratitude to everyone who has offered them kind words and prayers during the past few days.

"It's hard to stay sad when you know you are so loved," Audrey said.

The family encouraged people to continue to spread that love. They say it's important for families to not leave anything unsaid.

"If I had one more moment, if I had one more day, a mulligan, give me a mulligan, I'd go back and I'd tell (Steven), 'You are the reason everything is good for me. You're the reason I go to work in the morning and come home in the evening. And you are the reason I smile,'" Audrey said.

Audrey says she and her family are now drawing on their strong faith to help them move forward.

She says their belief in the power and goodness of God tells them Steven is in good care.

"We are believers that he is with the lord tonight and he is more comfortable than he has ever been," Audrey said. "He's being shown things he could only have dreamed of seeing before."


*A fund has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses. Please use the following link to make a donation:


Sunday, August 11, 2013


Authorities say they have found the body of a 14-year-old boy who went missing Friday afternoon while swimming with two friends in the Big Ditch in northwest Wichita.

As the search entered its third day, the teen's body was recovered about 200 yards south of where he was last seen, near Zoo Boulevard and I-235.

Officials said the water level in the Big Ditch has dropped since Friday, and the body was found about 10 a.m. Sunday in some brush about 15 feet from the east bank. His name has not been released.

According to police, the family has been notified and thanks rescue crews for their efforts.

The teen disappeared while swimming about 12:30 p.m. Friday. It took about 20 minutes for the two boys who were with him to reach a telephone to call 911.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Crews from Derby and Arkansas City have joined the search for a teen who disappeared under the waters of the Big Ditch in northwest Wichita Friday.

Acting Wichita Fire Battalion Chief Rick Bahr said crews from Derby and Ark City have been checking the Arkansas River and its banks for any sign of the 14-year-old boy.

In Wichita, firefighters resumed their search of the Big Ditch about 8 a.m. Saturday. It was suspended about 2 p.m., Bahr said, so search boats could be refueled. If the teen has not been found by dark, the search will again be suspended until Sunday morning.

The teen disappeared while swimming about 12:30 p.m. Friday. It took about 20 minutes for the two boys who were with him to reach a telephone to call 911.


The search resumed Saturday morning for a teen who authorities believe drowned in the Big Ditch Friday afternoon.

Wichita Fire Department Battalion Chief Rich Harris said the search for the 14-year-old boy who disappeared under water switched from a rescue operation to a recovery effort about 2:30 p.m. Friday. The search was suspended at dark.

When the search resumed Saturday, rescue crews concentrated their efforts near the area where the three boys were reportedly swimming, near Zoo Boulevard and I-235.

The boy went under about 12:30 p.m. Friday and did not re-surface. The friends ran home and called 9-1-1 to report the disappearance just before 1 p.m.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Emergency crews are on scene at the Big Ditch this afternoon to investigate reports of a possible drowning.

Crews responded just before 1 p.m. to an area near the Zoo Boulevard exit ramp off I-235.

911 dispatchers tell KAKE News two teens reported they were swimming in the water with a 14-year-old boy. They say he went under water and never resurfaced.

Rescue crews are searching an area from Windmill Road south toward Kellogg. Jet skis have also been deployed because of a large portion of the area they're searching is inaccessible by ground.

Traffic was delayed on parts of Zoo Boulevard, Central, Maple, I-235, Kellogg, K-42, MacArthur, 55th Street South, and Meridian near 63rd Street South while crews conducted their search. The search is now concentrated in the area of 55th Street South.

KAKE News has a crew tracking the story. Check back for updates.

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