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Community mourns loss of Dawson youths

POSTED: January 12, 2014 11:49 p.m.

Hugs, tears and laughter were shared Sunday as a community gathered to mourn the loss of two Dawson County men whose bodies were found a little over a week after they had first been reported missing.

“It is with a heavy heart that we’re here, but we do want to celebrate,” service organizer Shawn Dutcher said.

Mason Cox and David Wood, both 20, were last seen Jan. 2 when they went to go fishing around 3:30 a.m. 

The two best friends’ bodies were found Friday in Lake Lanier, about a quarter of a mile from where they were believed to have been fishing.

Family and friends took turns Sunday remembering two young men who should have been at the beginning of their lives.

“There’s something that I found in Mason’s glovebox ... when I went through his car,” said Leanne Cox, Mason’s mother. “When we were doing the FaceTime thing, he asked me ‘Mom, have you started making your New Year’s resolutions yet?’”

She said she didn’t think much of it, but when she was going through her son’s car she found the list of resolutions her son had made, just a day before he went missing.

“These were the four things in Mason’s handwriting ... the first thing he (wrote) was I’m going to get a job at the fire department. The second thing was I’m going to be a better friend to help my friends make better choices.

“His third thing was, I want me to find a woman that will help me in my life, to be who I’m going to be. The fourth thing that Mason put on there was I’m going to be self-reliant.”

Leanne Cox said her son was saved over the New Year’s holiday, a fact he was keeping quiet to tell her on her birthday, Jan. 6.

Many of Wood’s wrestling teammates from Dawson County High School were on hand to recall a friend who loved to show off on the mat and who was very protective of his son and younger sister beyond words.

“His boy’s down here, and I’m sure he’ll be a Tiger wrestler one day, too,” Dawson County High wrestling coach Arron Haynes said.

Wood left behind a 20-month-old son, Carter.

“David, he loved to be on the mat. He loved life,” Haynes said. “David was tough throughout. There was never any doubt. If I needed somebody on the mat, he was going to step up there and take care of business.”

Foul play has not been ruled out in the men’s deaths, but Dawson County Sheriff’s Maj. Tony Wooten has previously said the bodies showed no obvious signs of trauma. Autopsies are scheduled for today at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in Atlanta.

The families have set up a GoFundMe account online for people to donate to help offset funeral costs. It can be accessed at

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