An outpouring of love
Candlelight flickered as people who cared about Daniel Flagg gathered on the Pilot Point High baseball field to honor his life Saturday night.
Daniel, 17, died on July 29, in a drowning accident near the swim beach at the Isle du Bois Unit of the Ray Roberts Lake State Park.
“It’s the worst thing that can possibly happen,” game warden Stormy McCuistion said. “It’s not like alcohol was involved, which it wasn’t. There was no foul play. … And this is just a bad accident.
“It’s just awful. I can’t imagine, and I feel for their family.”
When McCuistion and the other first responders interviewed the people on the beach about Daniel to try to aid their investigation into the incident, the teenager was described as an athlete in good health who was a strong swimmer and was familiar with the lake.
“The water doesn’t discriminate,” McCuistion said. “It doesn’t matter how good a swimmer you are or not.”
He was at the lake, swimming with his girlfriend, and they were in an area of the lake that is roughly 12 feet deep.
Visibility is gone when you get deeper than 4 feet in the lake.
When Daniel’s girlfriend realized he was in peril, she tried to help him.
“She was doing her part to try to find him and grab him,” McCuistion said.
He added that the conditions in that part of the lake would make that difficult to impossible for someone who isn’t trained in performing a rescue.
This was the first drowning death of 2021 on Ray Roberts Lake, and the most recent drownings have all been near the swim beaches at Isle du Bois and Johnson Branch, McCuistion said.
“It can happen to anybody,” he said.
The game wardens, with the help of the Lewisville Fire Department dive team and the state park police, worked quickly to recover Daniel’s body.
He pointed to Daniel’s example of how the lake can take even strong swimmers with no contributing factors that make a drowning likely.
“I just don’t know why things like this happen,” McCuistion said.
A medical issue can cause a drowning, as can a leg cramp which can happen when the air temperature and the water temperature differ by around 10 degrees, McCuistion said.
At the time of the interview, McCuistion didn’t have the medical report about Daniel’s accident yet.
“The only way that I know to prevent it is to wear a lifejacket,” he said.
Daniel was a member of the Class of 2022 and of the Bearcat baseball team.
Baseball was his favorite sport, and he dedicated himself to it.
He had aspirations of playing ball beyond high school, and on his recruiting Next College Student Athlete profile, Daniel told the world that he wanted to go into engineering.
“I am taking all advanced classes,” he wrote. “I am a very hard worker that always looks for extra credit and for opportunities to get better every day."
“What sets me apart athletically is that I am always the first one to get to the field and last one to leave.”
He played on the select team the Dallas Patriots, and he was working with Texas Rangers catcher Jose Trevino to improve his skills behind home plate.
Members of both of his baseball teams came out Saturday for the vigil, as did several of his fellow seniors, recent Pilot Point graduates, and members of the Pilot Point High School staff and faculty.
His baseball coach, Jacob Kreamer, was one of the PPHS faculty members who spoke about Daniel at the vigil.
“I always tried to see the Daniel surprise face every day,” he said about when he had him in class. “I would always say something that was completely outrageous that he thought was unbelievable.”
He told the crowd succeeding at that always made him smile.
“I feel really blessed that I had the opportunity to get to know him and spend so much time with him,” he said.
His father, Dan Flagg, made his way to the center of the field to speak about his son and to thank everyone for being there to memorialize him.
The family has faith “he’s in paradise,” Dan said, which brings them comfort.
“We’d give anything to get him back,” he said.
He spoke of his son’s love of baseball and of the lake.
When he first got his driver’s license, the first place he went was out to the lake,” Dan said.
He thanked everyone again, asking them to think of “the fun things that Daniel did and the good times.”
After the formal portion of the vigil concluded, the community gathered in a line to hug Daniel’s loved ones, offering words of comfort and stories about the impact he had on their lives.
At times, groups of people stood waiting on the field, their candles burning, until they took their turn in the line.
“It’s just comforting to see how many people wanted to share him,” said Tracy Flagg, Daniel’s mother. “It makes my heart feel good. It’s very comforting to know that this many people loved him and to share the stories and the laughter.”
Focusing on the good memories, she said, was also good for his peers who are also hurting.
“When you can get them to talk about the good things, and the happy times, and the funny things, it just makes everybody feel better,” she said.
Daniel’s funeral was held Wednesday morning at Midway Church, the Flagg family’s church.