RADCLIFF, Ky. (WDRB) -- When the fire trucks and ambulances cleared, and when the last investigator left the scene. the phone calls started and the sadness spread.

"She told me that it was my cousin Elijah," Maya Sharper said. "I ran to my mom, and I started crying, and I broke down. I was like this can't be true. I kept thinking it was a lie and all a dream." 

Those who knew and loved Elijah Thornton are broken.

"I just can't believe it ... that he's gone," Sharper said. "I really can't."

The 17-year-old's body was pulled from a pond in Radcliff on Thursday, two hours after rescue teams began the search.  Police said Thornton was swimming with a group of people in the heavy rain, when for some reason, he went under and never resurfaced.

"It just kind of takes your breath away," said Thornton's math teacher, Shanae Thompson.

Friday came with the realization that a good friend and student won't walk the halls of North Hardin High School for his senior year.

"I don't even want to go to school because there's a bunch of memories there," Sharper said.

Strength will have to come from the teachers, who Thornton also made quite the impression on.

"He was always one of those students who would greet you," Sharper said. "He always had a smile when he would come into class. He always gave out hugs and high fives as well. He just had this warmness about him." 

Those memories are what teachers and students alike will hold on to.

Seventeen years of life were used to make an impact on a lot of people. 

"I love him with all my heart," Sharper said.

North Hardin administrators are discussing having guidance counselors on hand for students once they return to class in August.

Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved