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Published: Tuesday, 8/17/2004

Luna Pier man dies after canoe capsizes

PINKNEY, Mich. A 20-year-old Luna Pier man who worked at a summer camp owned by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Toledo drowned after his canoe capsized early Sunday on Silver Lake in northern Washtenaw County, authorities said.

Mark Kerchman, Jr., an employee of Camp Big Silver, was about 200 feet offshore in a canoe with a 12-year-old camper about 1:45 a.m. Sunday when the vessel overturned and sank, Washtenaw County sheriff s Cmdr. Dave Egeler said.

The 12-year-old swam safely to shore, but Mr. Kerchman apparently made an abortive attempt to reach the other shoreline about a third of a mile away before turning back, Commander Egeler said.

Neither Mr. Kerchman nor the youth was wearing a life jacket, deputies said. Mr. Kerchman s body was found about 11 a.m. Sunday by members of the sheriff s dive team.

Commander Egeler said Mr. Kerchman had tried unsuccessfully to entice fellow camp counselors into taking an early morning canoe ride after a party. When no one expressed an interest, he allegedly went and woke up the 12-year-old camper.

The commander said his department s initial investigation showed alcohol may have been a factor, though it is awaiting results of a toxicology test on the body.

In a statement faxed to The Blade yesterday, the Boys and Girls Club said Mr. Kerchman, who worked last year as a cabin leader at the camp and was rehired last week to assist with camp shutdown, was not on duty when the incident occurred.

We are greatly saddened by these events, and we send our sincere condolences to Mr. Kerchman s family and friends during this time of sorrow. The loss of life is very regrettable and tragic, the statement said, adding that the agency was making counseling available to campers and staff.

We, again, regret that this tragic accident has occurred. We are conducting our own internal investigation, and we will continue to cooperate fully with all appropriate law enforcement agencies, the statement said.



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