Traverse City Record-Eagle


May 26, 2010

17-year-old drowns at Twin Lakes Park

TRAVERSE CITY — Nicholas Lawrence Wayne Cooper liked to try new things, and his summer hopes ranged from auto body and engine repair to learning how to play the drums.

"Nick was just really interested in the way things work; ever since he was little he'd take things apart and put them back together," said his sister, Tamara Pischke. "He was always trying different things, piddling around, trying to figure out what he wanted to do."

Pischke, joined by Nick's girlfriend, Kayla Boyadjian, spoke Tuesday at the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home as the family made arrangements for her brother. Nick Cooper, 17, drowned Monday evening at Twin Lakes Park after he joined friends for a swim.

Grand Traverse County Sheriff Tom Bensley said Nick and friends attempted to swim from the park's beach on the western shore across a corner of the 15-acre lake to the northern shore. When his friends reached the other side, they heard Nick, who had fallen behind, yell for help.

"A couple of his friends swam back, but before they could return to him he went under," Bensley said. "They tried to dive down to look for him, but it's not a real clear lake, and they weren't successful."

A witness on shore called 911 about 8:20 p.m. Long Lake Township firefighters were first on the scene and joined the search, but were unable to locate Nick. Members of the sheriff's department dive team arrived and discovered the body before 9 p.m., unresponsive, in about 10 feet of water. He was transferred to Munson Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Bensley said he doesn't know what caused the drowning. The water temperature was moderate on the surface, though very cold below about six or seven feet in the spring-fed lake.

"He was such a good kid," Pischke said. "He took care of people, he did everything 110 percent."

Nick mainly attended Glen Lake Community Schools, though over the last year he also tried Suttons Bay High School and Traverse City West High School, before leaving school recently to start a summer job, his sister said.

"Maple City and Glen Lake are such a small community, and we have so many friends that are considered family," Pischke said. "Nick really bonded with people. He met a lot of people from the different things he tried so he had a lot of friends with different backgrounds. Everyone who knew him loved him."

Visitation for family and friends will be held Thursday from 11 am until 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at the funeral home.

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