Dominic Brandon Overton – June, 2005

 Family Copes with 4 year old Boy’s Death 
 April and Jesse Overton are trying to cope after their 4-year-old special needs son was found drowned Tuesday evening. Despite efforts by nearly 50 agents, a near three-hour search for missing Dominic Brandon Overton had a sad ending. Sheriff Gene Mayo said the boy was found floating face-down in Stroud Creek, northwest of Granbury, after he ventured from his grandmother’s home.
Dominic was in preschool at Baccus Elementary. Jesse said he named Dominic, his youngest child, after having a dream about the name. He said he looked it up and it means Beacon on the hill of the Lord.  “He truly is now,” Jesse said of his son.
He said his son loved to swing, jump on the trampoline and go exploring.  “He loved to go on walks with me,” Jesse said.  Jesse and April have three daughters, 7, 8 and 11, one of whom is also autistic.
Lt. Billy Henderson said police do not suspect foul play in the boy’s dis-appearance.  Mayo was in a Department of Public Safety helicopter, along with DPS Sgt. Birt Wilkerson and the chopper’s pilot and co-pilot. The helicopter went over the creek-bed at least five times, but it was on the sixth flyover that Mayo said he saw the child. He said trees around the creek hindered the air unit from spotting the body earlier.  The child’s lifeless body was pulled from the water, & emergency workers started CPR. CareFlite was called in and they worked to resuscitate the child. Dominic was pronounced dead at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth.  “I really thought we were going to find him alive,” Mayo said, echoing the sentiments of many of the searchers.
He said there is a child reported missing at least once a month and searchers go looking for them. Mayo said often finding the child safe “I wish that had been the case here,” Mayo said.
Jesse and his mother Veda were in tears while rescuers searched for the child. They then learned the child was found, but that he had to be CareFlited to the hospital. They were told the child was unconscious and suffered a broken leg. Mayo said authorities refrained from telling the family the child was dead, in an effort to prevent the family from being involved in an accident on the way to the hospital.  When they arrived at the hospital, they learned Dominic was dead.
Sheriff’s department Lt. Jerry East, who organized the ground search for the child, said Veda Overton was playing outside with Dominic, at her Stroud Creek Estates home around 2:15 Tuesday. Mayo said the grandmother went inside for two minutes. She told authorities Dominic was playing on the swing when she went inside. 
Veda said she came out and the child was gone. She said she searched the area franticly for a half-hour and then called 911.
East was one of the first to arrive at the home on the 2000 block of Overton Court. He immediately organized a search.  Several dive search and rescue members, police officers, firefighters, troopers and deputies began combing the area around the house, trying to find the special needs boy that could not speak. Bill Walters brought in his bloodhounds and tracker dogs, deputy Sonny Frisbee brought in his bloodhound and Department of Public Safety was on the way with a helicopter, so they could search from the air. There were searchers on four-wheelers that were called in to navigate the rough terrain. A woman (neighbor & family friend, Bea Allen) showed up on horseback to help search.  Since the DPS helicopter wouldn’t arrive until 5 p.m. and coming from Austin, deputy fire marshal Rosemary Moninger called in a favor from a man with a plane in Pecan Plantation. Within 10 minutes, Tom Woodward was flying over the area looking for the child.
There were more people calling authorities asking if they could help search.  “I’m so grateful for the outpouring of help from the community,” Jesse said. “It really means so much to me and my family.”
At 4:30 p.m. East was studying the map of the surrounding area, and gazed at the moon that was starting to show.  “I’m really starting to get worried,” East said noting that they only had a few more hours before darkness.  His relief of finding the child quickly turned to sadness when she learned the child did not survive.
From Dominic’s Dad~
It is so important to April and I that our precious son, Dominic Brandon Overton, be remembered not as a tragedy, but as a beautiful life to be celebrated.
I grew up in Thorp Spring as a boy and it has always been in my heart. We moved to Corpus Christi where I grew up, married April and had four beautiful children, the youngest being Dominic.
A year ago, we moved back and are so happy we did. Dominic adored the Overton “farm.” (My granddad was a farmer here.) He was never happier. Next to his mother & I and his three sisters, there was no one Dominic loved more than Nanny, my mother, Veda Overton. She was a school teacher for years & ran Overton Acres Daycare for years. Any that know her, know that no one loved children more & she adored Dominic. I will be eternally grateful to God for this year he has spent with her. Hers is the gentlest heart I’ve ever known & I am so proud (as Dominic was) that she is our mom.
We would go on walks a lot. Whenever we came across a patch of flowers, he would lay in them & almost try to eat the flowers as he made his little “da-da-da-“ sound.
Between swinging incessantly on the swing and sweetly repeating “up, up, up!” as he jumped on the trampoline, Dominic loved the outdoors.
It’s the little, simple things we remember most about Dominic. My father was a missionary & had a heart as big as Texas. I’ve always said my dad had a ministry of hugs. Dominic had it, too. He would grab you so tight that he would shake all over. (One of my girls said “Dominic is vibrating”) He would put his face in yours & smile his famous smile that earned him our nickname, “Mr. Sunshine.”
He loved playing games. He would hide that smile in a peek-a-boo fashion behind two curled up little hands in front of his face and flash his smile at you. I called it “The Squirrel Game.” His grandma (my mom) loved that.  When he wrapped his arms around you, he would do little pats on your back. That always melted everyone he hugged.

Dominic Brandon Overton

I swore he would be a dentist because he loved to pull my mouth open and inspect my teeth with his fingers while I, of course, said “Ahhh.”
He would run from one end of our house to the other squealing and giggling. His giggle was irresistible.
Our favorite game was what I called, “Baby Back Ribs.” I’d say, “I’m hungry – I want some Baby Back Ribs!” He would laugh so hard. Sometimes he would come up to me & lift up his shirt and smile that knowing smile I couldn’t resist. I miss him so much!
Every day the school bus driver and attendant picked up and dropped off Dominic, he played his flirtatious game with them. He was so feisty!
Dominic was autistic, yet it never hampered his spirit. That is why we called him “Little Man” and Mr. Sunshine.” His birth name, Dominic Brandon means Beacon on the hill of the Lord.”
Dominic lit up everyone he came across. There was no judgementality in his nature. If you stood and talked to him, he would hug your leg, and then motion passionately to be picked up. Then you were in his grasp. He was a heart melter!
Just two weeks ago, a certain woman that’s always been down told me she had “never been much on GOD or a praying person, but the sweet simple joy in that little boy made me think twice about God.” And remember Dominic couldn’t even speak! That is the legacy of Dominic Brandon Overton. Those that knew him will never be the same. I hope we can all learn to bring kindness and joy into other lives with such sweet simplicity.
Finally, to all that grieve (we all miss him so badly) remember:
Dominic left an adventure in this world and is now enjoying the one in heaven where he is enjoying my two biggest heroes in this life – my dad and my granddad. And I guarantee he’s giving St. Peter a run for his money.
So let us not ask “Why?!” for we are finite and God is infinite. Only He knows the tapestry of life. April and I choose to give thanks for the precious blessing of having a season in Dominic’s path. Join us in celebrating the LIFE of Dominic.Saddle up your horses.
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder
of God’s amazing grace
Let’s follow our leader
into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other –
This is The Great Adventure

From “The Great Adventure” by Steven Curtis Chapman


From his aunt, Kathy Overton

I think of you swinging in your grandmother’s back yard.  Excitement & predictability combined: An autistic child’s favorite activity.  It’s no wonder that some days you’d stay on the swings for hours.  No giggles or smiles, but a look of deep concentration as if you are trying to defy physics with every swing.
But today, something apparently distracts you.  Do you climb the fence on just a whim, or does something catch your eye? 
But over you go and the adventure begins.  Wading through the tall weeds, chasing grasshoppers that scatter with every step.  Weaving through the fallen trees that would block an adults’ path. 
At some point you hear a sound.  The thrilling sound of trickling, gurgling, flowing water. 
No longer are your steps random, but with great purpose you hike through the grass & find the creek.
Your shoes come off, then your socks and into the water you go.  Following a school of fish, or maybe just the water’s flow when you step into the deep. Your head bobs under & without fear, you gulp the water.   Mild discomfort, but no panic.  It’s a comfort to know you were like that.  And as the last of the oxygen is spent; peace, sweet peace.  Floating in the water. 
I like to think that it was then that two strong yet gentle hands lift you up.  A man is there, with eye’s as brown as yours.  You know him instantly as he knows you. “Up Granddaddy.”
Up you go and the adventure continues.  You can now wander anywhere with no reason to fear.  No worries or dangers;  just adventure, joy & love.




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