It happens in the blink of an eye.  One moment it's a trickle and looks like a muddy dream-come-true to an 11-year-old.  Moments later, the currents sweep an overwhelmed youngster under the water.

Matthew Natal, a son, friend, classmate and brother is gone, another victim of Mother Nature's fury this spring.  Flowers laid at the scene and authorities recreating the scene are the only reminder of the tragedy on this sun-soaked Central Texas day.

From the time I was five until I was eight I live in the Philippines on Clark Air Base, and when it was the monsoon season the  PSAs blared on the TV day and night telling us to stay safe and stay out of the ditches.  Behind our house (on stilts because of the weather) was a 3-foot-deep ditch probably 10-feet-wide ditch that spend most of the year dry.

Even when the ditches were dry we were ordered to stay out of the ditches.  A rainstorm a hundred miles away in the mountains could turn our backyard ditches into a death trap.  Still, as kids, we tested the boundaries.  We'd get caught playing in the ditches all the time.  That stopped the day a classmate was swept away, only to be found miles away off-base.



This is a terrible tragedy, and nothing will replace the hole left in the hearts of those that knew him.  Please, remind you children of the power of water.  Water carries vehicles off like they were pool toys.  No fault here.  Boys will be boys.  Unfortunately, this young boy from Nolanville won't be in class next fall and won't be on the field at his next game.  Let's hope kids AND parents learn something from this tragedy.

A Celebration of Life will be held tonight (6/19) at the Nolanville Community Center.  Streets will be closed off, and residents will walk to the Center to remember a life ended far too soon.

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