When snow dumped across the Tri-Cities last winter, Cole Grad was one of thousands of students who was at home in the white stuff.
It didn’t stop him from working. He and a friend were plowing his family’s driveway using a tractor, when a neighbor offered to pay him to move their snow.
For the following week, he cleared anyone’s driveway he could.
“I was like, ‘Come home. It’s dark. Can I bring you lunch?’ and he was like, ‘No, mom. We’re going to try to get all of these driveways,” Angela Grad said.
Cole — an outgoing, adventurous, happy, kind and hardworking 15-year-old Chiawana student — touched an electrified pipe connected to a pump system on the Columbia River about 8 p.m. Thursday. The shock paralyzed him, and he went underwater.
Firefighters pulled him from the electrified water after his friends called 911.
Cole was to be remembered by fellow Chiawana students and the community at the high school’s football field Saturday night, along with Rey Aranda, a student who died earlier in the summer.
Angela and Jessie Grad said their son was enjoying the last days of his summer as he prepared for his sophomore year at Chiawana.
“You never think something like that will happen,” Angela said. “I’m beyond heartbroken that it was my son, but I’m thankful that the other two boys were not hurt, because they did try to go into the water and try to find him.”
Cole loved being outdoors, whether it was playing football or baseball, riding dirt bikes or fishing.
I’m beyond heartbroken that it was my son, but I’m thankful that the other two boys were not hurt, because they did try to go into the water and try to find him.
Along with his work plowing driveways, Jessie said he helped with a side landscaping business, earning enough money to buy a truck before he could drive it.
Cole was occasionally described as a giant of a kid, at 6 feet 2 inches tall. He carried himself as an adult, Jessie said.
“We raised him with so much confidence, he just felt like he could take on the world,” Jessie said.
While physically he might seem intimidating, Cole was soft-hearted. Angela said a couple summers past, they found a group of baby hawks that fell from a nest in the backyard of their west Pasco home.
“We spent 12 weeks until they could fly feeding them frozen mice,” she said. “He would make sure the cat stayed away.”
Cole’s dog, Gunner, a black lab, has camped on the boy’s bed waiting for him to return. He meticulously made sure the dogs could be identified if they got loose everytime they needed to get new collars for the animals.
We raised him with so much confidence, he just felt like he could take on the world.
Jessie and Angela are grateful for the support they’re receiving from the community, they said. A GoFundMe account has been created at bit.ly/TheGradFamily to assist with funeral expenses.
“We never imagined or could comprehend the level of pain or sorrow that we have endured losing Cole,” they wrote in an email to the Herald. “We just want one more day, one more hug, one more smile.”