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Family Remembers Tulsa Man Who Drowned In Cimarron River

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Josh's mother, Nessa Griffin, and his uncle, Eldredge Jackson. Josh's mother, Nessa Griffin, and his uncle, Eldredge Jackson.
Picture of Josh Griffin with his family Picture of Josh Griffin with his family
Authorities search for Griffin's body in the Cimarron River Wednesday. Authorities search for Griffin's body in the Cimarron River Wednesday.

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Funeral arrangements are set for a Tulsa man who drowned in the Cimarron River near Guthrie.  Joshua Griffin's family is calling the service a celebration of life and says he died doing what he loved.

Griffin was at the river because he was volunteering with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife. His family says he knew how to swim, but it still ended in tragedy.

"Anyone who knew Josh, liked Josh, they loved Josh. He was just a great, all-around great person," Eldredge Jackson, Josh's uncle, said.

Josh Griffin's mother and uncle said the 24-year-old was the comedian of the family, incredibly spirited and focused on his dream at a very young age.

"He would sneak outside with a little cup and try to pick up little critters when he could find them," Nessa Griffin, Josh's mother, said.

Nessa Griffin said her son knew at age 10 that he wanted to be an animal science researcher.

"I felt compelled to subscribe to National Geographic and he would, when it was time for bed, be in his room looking at the pictures. He was just fascinated," she said.

That passion led Josh to the Cimarron River on Wednesday, where he drowned. He and some other wildlife volunteers were walking in about two feet of water.

6/16/2011 Related Story: Cimarron River Drowning Victim Attended Langston University

Investigators say Griffin fell into a hole after a sand bar collapsed, then slipped into much deeper water before others could rescue him.

"It ended up as a tragic situation, but we rejoice because we knew that in spite of what had happened, we knew the journey he was on and we knew that because that was his passion, he was going to be successful," Jackson said.

Investigators say Josh was not wearing a life jacket, but his mother says he definitely knew how to swim. The family won't comment on the ongoing investigation, choosing instead to focus on Josh's life.

"We have moments where we cry and then we have moments where we rejoice and laugh about the good times," Jackson said. "It hurts, we are going to miss him, but we celebrate his life as well."

Griffin's funeral is next Thursday, June 23, 11 a.m. at his church, Praise Center Family Church, in Tulsa.

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