LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- For the Mootz family in Henderson, it’s hard to believe it has already been one year since their 17-year-old, Will Mootz, died tragically. The teen was overpowered by the rushing water of the Pittman Wash last August.
But one year later, Will Mootz is still bringing a family and a community closer together.
From the minute Will Mootz went missing, it became clear to his sister Christina that will was more than just a kid needing to be found, but a symbol of what the community could do.
“It wasn't just a kid, it was William. Will Mootz. The kid we need to find,” said Christina. “he was a memorable kid, you know. A goofy blonde 17-year-old boy always with a smile on his face.”
Will, a kid known for his lovable quirks, was found more than a mile from where he fell into the Pittman Wash. Will was lifeless, but he wasn't done giving back.
"To our family he's the kid that brought everyone together," Christina said.
The images of total strangers looking for Will still gives the Mootz family chills. This past Sunday, when the skies opened and rain pummeled the valley, their nightmare flashed back.
Last August’s storm was powerful, and Will’s curiosity got the best of him. Although he was an accomplished boy scout, Will was no match for the raging waters.
Will’s dad, Charlie, lead the search and ultimate recovery of his son. Will was found more than a mile from where he fell into the Pittman wash.
“There's times I just hope I have enough tears left,” Charlie said. “Nothing is normal anymore. We have to make our new normal, and the hardest part is when you forget and all of the sudden you set the table for 5 people. Those are the tough times.”
Last year, the goodbye was sea of candles at Green Valley High School. This year: it’s a tribute ride. The same motorcycle ride Will took with his dad the night before the storm that took his life.
“We chased the lightning that night, so we had a good time,” Charlie said.
Sometimes the pain is too much, like on Sunday when Charlie saw kids playing in the same wash.
“I just parked my car and started talking to them. The last thing I want to see is someone who has to go through what I go through,” Charlie said. “They need to know that that can happen.”
The painful lesson is now a legacy that cannot be told in one ride.