Harborcreek Community Mourns FATHER AND SON DROWNED in Tragic Holiday Accident


A holiday getaway turned tragic for the Harborcreek community.

We met with a local grief counselor to discuss how neighbors and friends may cope with their loss. The Highmark Caring Place, a non-profit organization that provides free services to grieving families, is reaching out to the Harborcreek neighborhood.

“I have just lost it. “Losing a husband and a son at the same time is unbelievable,” said Heidi Johson, Matthew Atchely’s cousin.

After learning of the unfortunate death of a classmate, the Harbor Creek School District scheduled additional counseling sessions for pupils on Tuesday.

14-year-old Tyler Atchley, and 42-year-old Matthew Atchley — A father and son drowned in Virginia’s Lake Anna on Saturday while attending a graduation party. According to the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office, as deputies were on their way, the child’s father dived into the river in an attempt to save his son.

“They both knew how to swim and to have something like this happen is unbelievable,” Johson replied.

Johnson grew raised with Matthew and calls him her rock.

“No matter what struggles they went through, they always pushed through with the family and that’s what hurts the most,” Johson stated.

Tyler, a junior high school student in Harborcreek Township, was among the two victims.

According to Highmark Caring Place Program Manager Kristie Nosich, the unexpected nature of this can be especially distressing for school-aged children.

“Constant exposure to the grief can be overwhelming to children, and a lot of kids we know don’t know how to manage the ability of ‘Is this too much or is this not enough?'” stated Nosich.

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She explained that many children turn to social media, which can be both beneficial and traumatic.

A local nursing home holds a blood drive to increase donors during a critical period.
“If you go on Facebook right now, people are posting condolences; this story has touched them. So you have an entire community coming together to express their gratitude, regardless of whether they knew this family or not,” Nosich explained.

Nosich stated that in order to assist individuals who are mourning, it is critical to develop a support structure so that those in need realize they are not alone.

“They reach out to their peers rather than their adults, but this is because we do not provide a secure space for them. So saying, ‘I’m here for you,’ you’re not criticizing their feelings,” Nosich explained. “We do not wish to direct their sadness. You want to sit with them and offer them the place where they can speak anything they need to say.”

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