Boy who apparently fell into lake during family hike was outspoken, enjoyed climbing trees

Thursday, December 27th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SILSBEE, Texas (AP) _ A 6-year-old boy whose body was recovered from a lake after he disappeared during a family hike was described as an outspoken and fearless kindergartner who enjoyed climbing trees and playing video games.

Family members had puzzled for days over Ira Clutter's disappearance because he wasn't one to run off, his father, Randy Clutter said.

``We just kept thinking we would find him,'' Clutter said. ``Nobody thought he was in the water.''

Hundreds of volunteers spent days searching the rocky, brushy terrain and dirt trails in Possum Kingdom State Park, about 130 miles west of Dallas. Clutter, who is legally blind, searched alongside those who came from across the state to help.

Divers recovered Ira's body Wednesday from the lake where family members least suspected he would be found.

``It appeared like he fell from a large rock. He was found in 24 feet of water near the bottom,'' said Kristin Everett, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife. ``Investigators found a skid mark real close to where he was found. We believe he was exploring the shore line and he fell in.''

Billie Kyles, principal at Robinson Elementary School in Silsbee, said Ira was an outspoken student who was eager to discuss his faith. A Jehovah's Witness, Ira often would sit in Kyle's office during holiday or birthday celebrations, which conflicted with his religious beliefs.

``To tell the truth, my heart is breaking,'' Kyles said. ``I'm going to miss him.''

Clutter said the discovery of Ira's body brought closure to the family after a very difficult four days of not knowing what had happened to his son.

``He was pretty much a fearless little fella,'' Clutter said. ``He was not intimidated by anybody, really.''