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Day: July 25, 2015

Keizer youth remembered, 10 years later

Justin Wood proudly holds his promotion certificate from Whiteaker Middle School in June 2005. A month later, the 14-year-old was gone. He was remembered last weekend. (Submitted)
Justin Wood proudly holds his promotion certificate from Whiteaker Middle School in June 2005. A month later, the 14-year-old was gone. He was remembered last weekend. (Submitted)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

It warms Brandy Thomas’ heart to know her son is still remembered.

About 50 friends and family members came to the Best Western Mill Creek Inn in Salem on July 18 to commemorate the 10-year passing of Justin Wood.

Justin was 14 at the time, preparing for his freshman year at McNary High School after previously having gone to Clear Lake Elementary and Whiteaker Middle School.

“It feels good that people still think of him. He’s still touching lives,” said Thomas, who noted Justin had been on track to become an Eagle Scout. “There is a scout service award in his name. They still remember him every year.”

On July 16, 2005 Justin was floating on tubes in the Jordan Valley with family members including an uncle, his grandfather and some cousins.

“My brother’s son got into trouble,” Brandy Thomas recalled. “Justin went to help and got into trouble himself. They fell into a hole. My brother grabbed for his son, but they couldn’t find Justin.”

The incident happened on a Saturday afternoon. Justin’s body was found about a half-mile away the next morning.

Brandy got the call that Saturday afternoon from her ex-husband (Justin’s dad), who was with the group in Eastern Oregon.

“My husband and I were doing shopping that day,” Brandy said. “It was just a normal day. The phone call was unreal. I remember every single detail from that day, what I had bought and everything. I never wore the shoes I bought that day.”

Friends got Brandy and her husband on a private plane the next morning. They were there when Justin’s body was found. A memorial marks the site.

In addition to support from her large family – Brandy has 11 brothers and sisters – the Latter Day of Saints Church and Boys Scouts ward immediately stepped up to help.

“We got a lot of support,” Brandy said. “They were there