Hagerstown boy who died in river accident had much to look forward to

Six-year-old Dustin 'Bubby' Taylor was active child, was inseparable from his brother

Six-year-old Dustin 'Bubby' Taylor was active child, was inseparable from his brother

June 11, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS


HAGERSTOWN -- Six-year-old Dustin Anthony "Bubby" Taylor loved John Deere tractors, was inseparable from his big brother, Brandon, and wanted to be in the Army when he grew up.

The Hagerstown boy just completed first grade at Salem Avenue Elementary School and was looking forward to going to visit his uncle at Fort Bragg, N.C., in a few weeks and going to the beach in August, said his mother, Crystal Lynn Bartles.

"There's just so much he had to look forward to," said Bartles, 28, of Hagerstown.

Dustin died Sunday night after he slipped into a deep spot in the Shenandoah River near Shannondale in Jefferson County, W.Va., Sunday afternoon, according to emergency officials and family members.


"It was just an accident," Bartles said by phone Tuesday. "It's one of those -- why -- why did it happen?"

Bartles said she, Dustin and 10-year-old Brandon were with her boyfriend, Alex Cunningham, of Ranson, W.Va., Sunday when they stopped to check out the river and decided to wade in to cool off.

The area where they were wading was not even knee-deep, but Dustin and Brandon slipped into a deeper area, Bartles said. Dustin, who did not know how to swim, clung to Brandon's neck while the older boy tried to get them out, Bartles said.

Cunningham ran to help, but they lost their hold on Dustin, Bartles said. Others came to help and eventually were able to find Dustin, but not before he had been underwater for several minutes.

Dustin's father, Steven Michael Taylor, 29, of Boonsboro, said Dustin was "petrified" of water. A few weeks ago, the boys went swimming in a 4-foot pool and Dustin wore a life jacket and swimmies, but still wanted to get out as soon as the kids started splashing around, Taylor said.

"That's why I couldn't even believe he was in the water," Taylor said.

Taylor described Dustin as an active boy who loved riding his bike and playing Xbox and board games with his brother.

The boys were very close and loved riding their four-wheeler, "Gravedigger," together, Bartles said.

"They were best buddies," she said. "Everything (Brandon) did, (Dustin) had to do, too."

Dustin had "a little bit of attitude, but he was the sweetest thing," Bartles said. "Everybody loved him. He was just a great kid."

Taylor said his son will be buried in a John Deere shirt and his casket will be lined with a John Deere quilt.

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