Teen who drowned at Wildwood Falls 'was a big brother to the end'

ALOHA, Ore. - It's a beautiful area of Lane County that Alex Smith and his family visit every summer.

The 16-year-old Aloha High School student was hiking about 30 feet above the water Tuesday when his younger brother suddenly slipped and fell in.

"And Alex ran down there and reached out his hand and tried to grab his little brother. He grabbed it, but that pulled Alex in," said Scott Smith, Alex's father.

The two were pulled into a narrow chute of surging water.

His brother came through the other side, but Alex got trapped underneath a hidden log.

"Other kids are calling him a hero and he truly was," Smith said.

He'll also be remembered for how he lived and all the lives he touched.

His father was overwhelmed by the stories shared at a recent vigil in Alex's honor.

"One student said Alex saw him crying and didn't even know him walked up to him and gave him a hug said it's going to be better and it made it better for that one," Smith said.

Alex loved to skateboard, to spend time with his girlfriend and brother and had a unique taste for a certain fruit.

"Blueberries are expensive and the kid would crush a pound of them at a time! He loved frozen blueberries!" Smith said.

So a few weeks ago his dad bought him his own blueberry plant, something he'll be taking extra special care of now that he's gone.

In the days since he died, his family has been combing through his Facebook and Twitter accounts compiling pictures for a slide show when they came across one tweet that now takes on a whole new meaning.

"My son Alex posted it in early June, a tweet that said make sure you hug everyone you love before they leave because you never know what can happen in such a short time. That would be my advice I leave to everyone, make sure you tell them you love them and give them that hug," Smith said.

If you'd like to help the family cover the funeral expenses you can donate here.