COMSTOCK, Mich. – Around a hundred boats and paddlers floated down the Kalamazoo river Wednesday in honor of a kayaker who lost his life over the weekend.
Michael Scott, 35, went missing while kayaking with friends on the St. Joseph river in Berrien County this past Saturday. Officials recovered what’s believed to be his body following a search Monday night, but are still waiting for official confirmation.
Scott was a member of the Kalamazoo Paddle Club, and every Wednesday during the summer they gather for a paddle. But this float took on a somber tone as they remembered a friend they lost.
“We’re here because of him, because we love him and we miss him," says club co-founder Cameron Lindblade. "He just had a way about him, a smile that was infectious."
Dozens of kayaks and canoes crowded Merrill Park for the launch of the memorial float for Scott.
“We’re gathering our brothers and our sisters, and this is emotional support,” said Andrea Dick, one of Scott's friends.
In the meantime, friends, who say Michael was not wearing a life jacket at the time, are hoping to send a message to anyone else out on the water. “In light of the tragedy recently, we are going to try and educate as many people as possible on river safety," said club member Jay McDonald. "PFD first and foremost. It’s there to save your life, and anything can happen on the water at any given time."
PFD stands for personal flotation device.
The Paddle Club hopes to make this float an annual event to pay tribute to one of their own.
Another memorial paddle with floating lanterns is scheduled for this Saturday evening at the Jasper Dairy boat launch in Berrien County.
If you’d like to help the family with memorial costs, there’s a GoFundMe page for Michael Scott.