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Teen drowns while swimming with friends

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Coroner identifies victim as Tariq Armour, 18, of Cox's Creek

By Randy Patrick

A community is mourning the loss of a Nelson County teenager who drowned while swimming with friends at Green River Lake State Park Sunday afternoon.

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Tariq Armour, 18, of Cox’s Creek, was a sports standout at Bardstown High School who had graduated in June and was enjoying a summer day out with friends when the day turned tragic.

“It hurts,” said Lance Allen, who was with him nearly every day and during his last moments alive. “He was like a brother to me.”

About 15 or 16 Bardstown High graduates had gone to the lake together. It was a trip they had planned for some time. Allen said most of the teens, including Armour, were going off to college in the fall, and were wanting to have some fun together.

They had taken a hiking trail to a rock point at a cove where many people go to view the scenery and had decided to go swimming. One group had crossed the cove to the other side and another group, including Allen and Armour, were making their way across when they began to struggle against the current.

Darrian Ford, another close friend, was one of those who went back in to try and save Armour and Allen.

“They were screaming for help, and as soon as we got to the other side,” he said, they went back in and swam back out.

“I tried to grab Tariq. He was panicking,” Ford said.

He had an arm around Allen and tried to wrap his other forearm around Armour, but because Armour was struggling against him, he lost his grip and his friend went underwater and did not resurface.

Robbie Leathers’ twin sons, Greg and Scott, were also among those who tried to help the two. They were able to control Allen, but Armour was just too strong, and in his panic, he was fighting his rescuers, and they couldn’t save him, he said.

“It’s devastating, I’m sure, to all the kids. They were very close,” Leathers said.

Young people feel an “invincibility,” and don’t see the dangers older adults do, so experiences like this is hard for them, he said.

“We need to lean on each other,” said Leathers, who is director of pupil personnel for the Nelson County School District. “They were fighting for his life, and hopefully, they will continue to live their life to the fullest.”

The tragedy occurred sometime around 4 p.m., soon after the group of young women and men had arrived at the lake.

Lt. Jeremy McQueary of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources reported Sunday afternoon that a search was underway for the teen. The search continued until about 1:30 a.m. Monday and then resumed about 9 a.m.

Monday afternoon, Taylor County Coroner Daniel Cook reported that Armour’s body had been found at 11:45 a.m., and his identity was positively confirmed.

By Sunday night, however, social media reports had identified Armour as the missing swimmer.

Armour was found about 25 feet from where he was last seen near the Lone Valley Boat Ramp. The body was about 30-35 feet below the surface, according to Campbellsville Fire-Rescue Chief Chris Taylor.

The body was sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

Cook said there was no indication of foul play. There were also no physical injuries and no medical issues of which he was aware.

Agencies involved in the search included the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Green River Lake State Park Rangers, Taylor County Sheriff’s Office, Campbellsville-Taylor County EMS, Taylor County Coroner’s Office, Taylor County E-911, and Barren County Rescue.

 “He was a great kid,” said Jeremy Dale, who was Armour’s track coach and assistant football coach at Bardstown High. “He always had a smile on his face, and he loved football.”

Dale said Armour had looked forward to playing football this fall at Georgetown College, where he was already enrolled as a student.

He had been a promising athlete since eighth grade.

“When you look at a kid and you see they have their whole life in front of them, and you believe it’s going to be a very productive life because you’ve got to see them mature and grow for five years, that makes it even tougher,” Dale said.

Allen was on the track team with Armour.

“He was an all-around great person,” he said of his friend.

Ford was on the football team with Armour, who was a running back and defensive end. They both moved to Bardstown the same year, Ford from Taylor County and Armour from Texas.

“He was one of my first friends,” Ford said.

“He was smart and athletic” and was a “caring” person, he said. “He was always laughing. He had a lot of friends.”

There will be a special time of support for friends, family and community mourning for Tariq Armour's passing. All are welcome. This will be held at Bardstown United Methodist Church Family Life Center 116 E. Flaget Ave Tuesday Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Counselors and clergy from the community will be available. Please help pass this information on.

Editor’s note: Dennis George, a correspondent for the Standard, and reporter Zack Oakes of the Central Kentucky News Journal in Campbellsville also contributed to this story.