‘It was pretty awful.’ Kayaker recalls moment boy drowned in Ann Arbor

Boy identified as sophomore at Pioneer Alex Walker

Kayakers on the Huron River (Photo: Destination Ann Arbor)

ANN ARBOR – The day after a teenager drowned in the Huron River after jumping into the water from a train trestle, one onlooker is still reeling from the events she witnessed.

The woman wished to remain anonymous, so for the purpose of this story we will refer to her as Judy.

She recalled it was a quiet day on the water when she suddenly heard screaming.

“The river was pretty empty and I was heading upriver in my kayak when the kids saw me and started yelling for help,” Judy told A4 via email. “The boy had jumped in and not come back up.” 

Read: Ann Arbor boy who drowned in Huron River identified as sophomore at Pioneer

The group of students from Pioneer and Skyline high schools told her that two minutes had already passed since the boy disappeared under water, so Judy called 911.

“We started searching in the water,” she recalled. “A few minutes later maybe, a canoe came up and a gentleman in the canoe found him. Emergency services arrived right then, too, and immediately went to work.”

According to Ann Arbor police, paramedics were able to deliver CPR and a pulse was detected. The boy, identified as Alex Walker, a sophomore at Pioneer High School, was transported to University of Michigan hospital in critical condition and was later pronounced dead.

“It was pretty awful but I guess better that he was found,” wrote Judy.

Read: Ann Arbor authorities discourage bridge jumping after tragedy on Huron River

City officials are warning of the dangers of the Huron River, which can appear deceptively tranquil.

“NEVER jump off any bridge into the Huron River,” the Ann Arbor Fire Department wrote on its Facebook page on Wednesday evening. “This is not only incredibly dangerous but also illegal. The river has significant hidden debris such as trees and VERY unpredictable and strong currents. We strongly discourage anyone from swimming in the Huron River due to these hazards.”

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.