WAHOO, Neb. — If Bayden Martinez could get his way, he would spend every summer day pulling fish from Sand Creek about a mile north of his home in Wahoo.
That's what the 11-year-old wanted to do late Tuesday afternoon, pestering his mother about going to his favorite spot — just south of the Lake Wanahoo dam spillway on Sand Creek.
But mom had other plans for Bayden and his siblings. A niece was coming to visit.
He became upset and decided to go anyway, said his uncle, Jeremy Rush.
Bayden's body was recovered Wednesday near the spillway.
“He wanted to go fishing, but I wouldn't take him,” said Bayden's mother, Danelle Rush, as tears rolled down her cheeks. “I wish I would have taken my son fishing.”
One of the boy's legs apparently got caught in a 12-inch concrete drain pipe, and he was pulled down into the water, said Saunders County Sheriff Kevin Stukenholtz.
An employee of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission spotted the body about 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, and the spillway was shut down to retrieve the body.
Officials on Wednesday ordered both the spillway and dam closed to the public as the investigation continued, according to an email from the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District.
The agency also postponed the Sand Creek/Lake Wanahoo dedication ceremony planned for Saturday, said John Miyoshi, the NRD general manager.
Miyoshi told The World-Herald earlier in the day that he was not aware of any signs warning about the spillway. Normally, the public cannot get to the spillway area because the water is too high.
“It appears (Bayden) climbed up into the outlet works, a place that is normally not accessible,” Miyoshi said in an interview. “But right now the water in the stream is down.”
Stukenholtz said he learned two years ago how strong the pull of a drain pipe can be when an adult employee of a natural resources district got his leg stuck in a Saunders County pond. The employee was rescued, but it took several hours to free him.
“The suction is unbelievable,” Stukenholtz said.
Stukenholtz said Danelle Rush began looking for her son after she discovered he was missing about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. That was about a half-hour after he asked if he could go fishing.
She called 911 about 10:30 p.m., and a formal search began. The search included the Omaha police helicopter.
Cheryl Hoffman, one of Bayden's cousins, described the boy as very loving and a bit of a joker. Hoffman said Danelle Rush was raising Bayden, his 6-year-old brother and two sisters, ages 3 and 4, on her own.
Wahoo Schools Superintendent Galen Boldt said Bayden had just completed fifth grade at Wahoo Elementary.
“He was a delightful young boy,” Boldt said. “One of the best big brothers anyone could ever imagine.”
Boldt said Bayden was a protector of his brother in kindergarten and a sister who was a preschooler. He said the brothers could be seen walking to school every day.
Bayden, he said, worried that because he was moving to middle school next year, his little brother wouldn't have someone to walk him to school each day.
“We want people to understand just how special he was,” Boldt said.
A fund to help with funeral expenses has been set up at Union Bank and Trust. Checks payable to the “Bayden Martinez Memorial” can be sent to any of the bank's locations.
World-Herald staff writers Emerson Clarridge and Sam Womack contributed to this report.
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