Cobb County

‘He laid his life on the line:’ Teen saved friend who fell in icy lake before drowning, family says

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Family members say a Cobb County teenager who died after falling through a frozen lake was trying to save a friend’s life.

The incident happened last week on Ellison Lake in Kennesaw. Police said a group of teenagers were playing on the ice when two of them went through. Rescuers were able to pull one teenager out of the water, but it took more than an hour to recover the other teen.

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A Kennesaw officer was able to pull one boy to safety from Ellison Lake in Kennesaw, but lost sight of the other. The second boy, 16-year-old Koren Troy Brooks died from his injuries.

Rescuers spent nearly two hours in surface water temperatures that were as low as 28 degrees searching for Brooks. They found him, but he did not survive.

Witnesses told Channel 2 Cobb County Bureau Chief Michele Newell they were shocked by the tragic accident on a lake that looked nothing like it does today.

“There was about five or six kids out here, and they were all screaming, ‘Help, help, we need help!,” witness Hayleigh James said. “They were like standing at the edge like, ‘How can we get our friend?;”

James said she saw one of the teens’ mothers run to the lake in an attempt to rescue the boys.


Newell spoke to Brooks’ family and friends on Monday about how they want him to be remembered.

His aunt, Brandy Wells, said her nephew was smart and shy, but personable.

“A teen who loved to play video games. Who loved his family and friends,” Wells said. “He was able to walk in any room and make any situation better by telling a small joke or doing something goofy.

Wells said a group of teens were walking by the lake when one teen “wanted to do something fun or take a risk if you will.”

“He went a little too far, fell in the ice and Koren, out of everyone else that was out there, was brave enough to jump to his rescue and assist him,” Wells said.

Koren’s friend, who has not been identified, survived.

“He laid his life on the line,” Wells said. “He’s a hero. Koren is a hero.”

The family is planning what they are calling a celebration of life rather than a funeral next Thursday.

Koren will be remembered for his love of family and friends, his creativity, and his ability to make any situation funny; he was 16 years old, a junior attending Kennesaw Mountain High School in Kennesaw Ga. On behalf of my Sister and family, we appreciate your support,” His family said. “And ask that you help us with the funeral & relocation of my nephew. This time in our Mothers and family life is where we need to reflect and be together in love and prayer.”

They’ve set up a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.

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