Westcliffe mourns native sons following tragic drowning - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Westcliffe mourns native sons following tragic drowning

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Helpful.  Giving.  Generous.  Kind.  Reliable.  Polite.  Those are just some of the adjectives residents of Westcliffe are using to describe two brothers who tragically drowned Sunday night in a pond on the family's ranch, Music Meadows Ranch.  Weldon Rusher, 20, went for a swim in the pond late Sunday night, but at some point disappeared below the surface of the 41° water and failed to resurface, according to the Custer County Sheriff's Office.  Weldon's brother, Ben, 28, went into the water to try to save his brother, but also never resurfaced.  Both brothers' bodies were recovered by dive teams Monday.  Their deaths are being considered accidental.

"It tore the town apart," said Tia Howdeshell, who attended Custer County schools with the brothers.  Ben and Weldon were among the best-known and well-liked residents in the Wet Mountain Valley, Howdeshell said.  Both were heavily involved in FFA, ranching, rodeo, and lending a helping hand wherever necessary.  "They cared so much about Westcliffe," Howdeshell said.

Teachers and staff at the Custer County school campus in Westcliffe were emotionally distraught Tuesday.  Many were seen crying, some visibly sobbing.  "It's hit our staff pretty hard," said Custer County School District C-1 Superintendent Mark Payler.  "A lot of our staff, especially our younger staff, did graduate from Custer County High School, so they knew the brothers and it's been a very tough day for those folks."  Payler says teachers who knew the brothers were offered the day off with a substitute filling in for them if they felt too emotionally overcome to conduct classes, however none of the teachers took the day off.  All wanted to be in the school and among their colleagues and students, Payler said.

A public memorial for Ben and Weldon Rusher will be held Saturday in the east gym at Custer County High School.  A time for the service has not yet been announced.

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