A memorial service for Clough held Saturday at Victory Baptist Church was attended by more than 200 people, his mother, Lynelle Clough, told The Bulletin.
“AJ is very loved and he is very missed,” Lynelle Clough said.
The driver, a 17-year-old boy, allegedly failed several roadside sobriety tests and is now charged in the juvenile justice system with criminally negligent homicide in AJ Clough’s death, as well as driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving and reckless endangering.
The Bulletin does not identify juvenile defendants unless they are charged as adults.
At 11:49 p.m. June 28, teenagers at the end of Forest Road 4280 at Wickiup Reservoir called 911 to report a truck was upside down in the water with people inside.
Sheriff’s deputies arrived to find the vehicle, a 2008 Ford F-150, completely underwater. Witnesses said five people had been in the truck when it rolled into the water but one, AJ Clough, had been unable to get out, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by police to test the driver’s blood for intoxicants.
Two of the survivors were transported to St. Charles Bend with serious injuries.
One of the survivors told police the group got to the lake around 8:30 that night. Of the 14 people at the site, 12 reportedly told deputies “most everyone” had been consuming alcohol. Around 11:30 p.m., someone said, “let’s go drifting,” or something similar, and a group of four boys and a girl, all 16 or 17 years old, got into one of their trucks, according to the search warrant affidavit filed by Deschutes County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Duryea.
“Individuals on scene had told (the driver) not to drive prior to the crash,” Duryea wrote.
Police say the boy drove his vehicle in a reckless manner attempting to drift, purposely causing it to lose traction in the soft sand surrounding the reservoir.
“It was impossible to orientate their direction as the dust and sand kicked up was completely blocking anyone’s ability to see,” Duryea wrote.
Lynelle Clough was at her home when a friend of her son’s, unknown to her, knocked on the door to say AJ Clough had been in an accident at Wickiup.
She said she had known where AJ Clough was and who he was with. But she heard that when the time came for AJ Clough to head back to Bend with the friends he’d gone with, he opted to stay at the reservoir with the driver.
Lynelle Clough and her husband, AJ’s stepfather Rick Collins, rushed to the reservoir, passing signs on the forest road near the site reading “BEER” and “PARTY AHEAD.” She would wait five agonizing hours for the truck bearing her son’s body to be towed from the lakebed.
The driver was eventually taken to the Deschutes County Juvenile Detention Center and released following his arraignment.
“The day he got out, we left the hearing and went to pick out a plot at the cemetery for our son,” she said. “It just doesn’t feel like justice is being served here.”
AJ Clough was born in Lakeland, Florida, and moved with his family to the Bend area at age 2. He was close with his two older sisters.
He attended an alternative school last academic year and intended to return to Mountain View High School for his senior year. He got his driver’s license four days before his death.
AJ Clough was outgoing and upbeat from the earliest age, his mother said.
“He was friendly and fun and just really a happy kid,” she said.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses.