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Memorial Honors Canoeist Who Drowned Trying To Save Others

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MIDFORD (WWJ) – In the Huron River near Milford Saturday, dozens of canoeists will be taking a special trip to honor a man who lost his life on the river as he tried to save the lives of two others.

Forty-eight-year-old Doug Killingbeck of Milford was trying to save 16-year-old John Przydatek of Harrison Township, when both drowned near the base of the Huron River Dam in Milford. Killingbeck had put on a life jacket before going in, but police say the force of the choppy waters stripped it off of him. The 16-year-old friend with Pryzdatek was able to make it to shore.

Alan Heavner owns a canoe rental service in Milford. He said losing fellow canoeist Killingbeck was like losing a family member.

“So I said at that funeral, what can I do, what can I do as one person? I said well I can take all my canoes, 150 of them, I can donate them for a fundraiser. And that’s where the whole idea for this kind of started.”

Heavner said he hopes the memorial will turn into an annual event to raise money for Killingbeck’s widow and two young daughters.

“It’s hard for me, because I never had kids myself, but I have family. And I can’t imagine losing somebody that close, you know. How do you handle that?”

The Doug Killingbeck Memorial Fundraiser and Lunch will begin at Milford’s Central Park at 9 a.m. Suggested donations include $10 for students, $40 for individuals and $75 per family. You can take an hour long or half-hour long leisurely downstream paddle, before meeting back up for lunch.

For more information, visit www.heavnercanoe.com.

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