Franklin teens keep hope alive for missing friend

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — A Franklin teen is spreading hope tonight as the search for his friend in the Big Blue River continues.

Rescuers started their search just after noon on Friday. That’s when DNR officials say a 16-year-old girl somehow fell over the dam and four boys went in after her.

 (Provided Photo/Brittany Armstrong)
(Provided Photo/Brittany Armstrong)

Mark Nally and Trent are doing well, but Sarah McLavish and Michael Chadbourne are in the hospital and Jason Moran is still missing. Still the Franklin community believes there’s a chance Moran can be found.

“If I didn’t have him on this earth, it would tear my whole family apart. It would tear me apart piece-by-piece,” Gabe Olibo said over Skype with 24-Hour News 8’s Nina Criscuolo.

He doesn’t just call Jason Moran a friend, but a brother.

“I remember always playing football with him, side-by-side, always working hard to get each other better,” Olibo said.

Since Friday afternoon when Moran went missing in the river, Olibo and his teammates and classmates have been praying for a positive sign.

“‘Cause we can’t stand the thought or possibility of losing one of our brothers,” Olibo said.

Rescue workers combed the river all day Saturday, but say high water levels have made it difficult to get close to the dam.

“We are doing our best and hopefully we’ll have a positive resolution,” Jet Quillen, with the DNR, said.

Olibo has lead a flood of social media mantras, filled with hashtags #fight4sarah and #fight4chaddy, in honor of both Sarah McLevish and Michael Chadbourne who are in the hospital, and most frequently using #fightjmoneyfresh. It’s all an effort to keep hope alive.

(Provided Photo)
(Provided Photo)

“If I know them like I think I know them, they’ll just keep searching and searching and praying,” Olibo said.

So while another night will pass without a sign of Moran, Olibo copes with a reality he’s learning far too young.

“You can’t take life for granted, is what I’m trying to say and I really hope he pulls through and comes out,” he said.

The recovery effort for Jason Moran is expected to continue Sunday morning. DNR officials hope the water will recede more, so that they can get closer to the dam. They expect to continue to search until they can find Moran.

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