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'Rev that thing!': Hundreds gather at memorial convoy for Hunter Ebie, 11YO boy who drowned in Lake Erie

Hunter Ebie
Posted at 3:44 PM, Jun 15, 2024

AKRON, Ohio — Like many 11-year-old boys, Hunter Ebie loved a cool ride with a loud engine.

Loud cars, motorcycles, ATVs and trucks—Hunter loved hearing the rev of an engine and the peel of a tire.

"I got a loud bike over here myself and a big stupid truck with the exhaust cut off and every time I’d leave the house he’d always yell at me to rev it," said Wade Swain, Hunter's neighbor.

On June 7, Hunter was at Conneaut Beach with his family, standing in shallow water looking for shells and sea glass with his mother. Just ankle-deep, a wave knocked Hunter down and caught him in a rip tide. His mother tried to rescue him but was caught in the riptide as well. His mother was pulled from the water, but Hunter did not resurface. His body was recovered four days later.

A heartbreaking tragedy has seen an entire community mourn the loss of the young boy who was beloved on his football team by his neighbors—and now even by strangers.

On Saturday, with the family's blessing, Swain helped organize a memorial convoy for Hunter. He posted an event on Facebook with a call out to anyone who wanted to join to honor Hunter and support his family to meet at the Springfield Assembly of God parking lot on Canton Road with their truck, ATV, motorcycle or souped-up car.

Swain expected 50 or 60 people to respond. What happened next was an outpouring of support not only from the Springfield Township community where Hunter lived but also from across Northeast Ohio.

"I think within 24 hours we were up past 300," Swain said.

A parking lot full of loved ones and strangers alike came together, some vehicles with signs displayed for Hunter, his football number—No. 17—balloons, ribbons—and Spartan red.

For those who knew Hunter, the day was about showing up for his family.

"We are neighbors and we just felt like we needed to be here to support the family," said Tammy and Bill, two of Hunter's neighbors. "We’re here to support them. We got to support the family, support our neighbors and be with them throughout this."

And for those who didn't know the boy, their presence held the same intention.

"It's all for Hunter. We're all bound together as one for this. When something like this happens the community comes together as one. We’re united. We’re all family," said a member of one of the biker groups who showed up in support.

Hundreds of supporters took off down Canton Road, driving and revving their engines along the route, doing exactly what Hunter would have asked of the vehicles he would have adored.

"I spoke to dad last night," Swain said. "We were discussing the parade a little bit and he was like 'I know he’s just going to be up there like ‘Yeah, rev that thing!’' cause that’s what he’d do to me every time I left the house."

With family in attendance, the memorial convoy showcased togetherness for the family during a difficult time.

"All these people, when I pulled up I just started crying, balling my eyes out. I’m crying in support because everybody has been so supportive," said Angela Porter, Hunter's aunt.

The day also served as a platform for the family as they began their aim to raise awareness for water safety to ensure no family has to share in their heartbreak.

"It’s called the Hunter Project and what we’re trying to do is raise money for safety awareness for the Lake Erie beaches and all in general," Porter said. "It’s happened too many times, too many kids have lost their lives and I don’t want to ever have to see any family go through this ever again."

The family has been supported on GoFundMe, where the money collected will help support the costs of laying Hunter to rest, as well as their new mission, The Hunter Project. The family hopes the funding from the project can help purchase life vests for Lake Erie beaches and provide resources for water safety across the area, including on-duty lifeguards and signage for visitors of the lake to be better informed on water conditions.

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