Arlington

Arlington Lamar student drowned while kayaking, officials say

John Cookson, 17, an Arlington Lamar junior, drowned in a kayak accident Wednesday.
John Cookson, 17, an Arlington Lamar junior, drowned in a kayak accident Wednesday. Courtesy

An Arlington Lamar High School junior who drowned while kayaking Wednesday afternoon was a well-liked Texas Rangers parking lot valet and a tennis player.

John Cookson, 17, was with friends in Village Creek when his kayak apparently turned over, a fire department spokesman said.

Firefighters responded to a call for a swift-water rescue in the creek shortly after 5:30 p.m. Wednesday near Findlay Drive and San Paulo Court. Firefighters were directed to the creek, where a teenager asked them to follow him.

“One teen led the firefighters, and that’s where they found two other teenagers trying to get the victim out of the water,” said fire Lt. Lee Tovar on Thursday.

One was in the water holding Cookson, who was unconscious, according to a fire department report.

Cookson was taken to an Arlington hospital and then to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, where he was pronounced dead at 11:40 p.m. Wednesday, according to fire officials and the Tarrant County medical examiner’s website. The medical examiner ruled his death an accidental drowning.

Cookson was a parking lot valet at Globe Life Park in Arlington where the Texas Rangers had a moment of silence before Thursday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox.

Announcer Chuck Morgan asked everyone to take their hats off “to remember those lost in the devastating floods in Texas and Oklahoma over the past week … and to remember Arlington Lamar High School student and Texas Rangers employee John Cookson … Our thoughts and prayers go out to John’s family and friends during this very difficult time.”

On Thursday night, Cookson’s initials were on parking signs in lots A and B, where he worked.

The Texas Rangers issued this statement Thursday:

“The Texas Rangers are deeply saddened by the passing of John Cookson on Wednesday evening. John was a dedicated and conscientious member of our parking crew for the last two years, and he will be missed here at Globe Life Park. Our thoughts and prayers go out to John’s family and friends during this very difficult time.”

At Lamar, Cookson was on the varsity tennis team and played in the school’s orchestra, Arlington school district spokeswoman Leslie Johnston said.

He won the District 4-6A junior varsity doubles tennis title with partner Andy Yen last month, tennis coach Courtney Monroe said. Next year was going to be Cookson’s chance to make it to the starting lineup, he said.

“It’s going to be really tough, and it’s not something [teammates] are going to get over either, because everything we do next year will be a reminder,” Monroe said. “We’ll put the lineup up on the board without his name on it. That’s really going to be tough for several of them who were close to him, especially the two guys who were with him.

“This is not a dream that anyone’s going to wake up from. It’s going to be there, and it’s really going to hurt for a long time.”

No other injuries were reported.

Cookson was the second kayaker killed this week. Joshua Reed, 29, of Fort Worth, drowned Saturday in the Trinity River when water released from Eagle Mountain Lake dam overtook his kayak, authorities said.

Staff writers Domingo Ramirez Jr., Monica S. Nagy, Charean Williams and Stefan Stevenson contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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