Police: Indiana man died in Michigan after kayaking accident
Niles – A man who died after falling from a kayak into a southwestern Michigan river during a New Year’s Day excursion with friends has been identified as an Indiana man.
Niles police said Thursday that Jean Claude Mutabazi, 40, of South Bend, was pronounced dead Wednesday after being pulled from the St. Joseph River following a four-hour search. The medical examiner’s office is investigating his cause of death.
Police said Mutabazi was kayaking Wednesday morning with three other men, two of whom also fell into the river and were treated at a hospital for exposure to cold.
All four men were wearing personal flotation devices. Police said Mutabazi was still wearing his when he was found trapped under a log that was stuck at the top of a dam.
Niles Fire Chief Larry Lamb said that shortly after launching their kayaks, the men apparently ran into trouble. He said he wasn’t sure if the speed of the river’s current contributed to the accident.
At the time of the accident, the water temperature was 39 degrees and the air temperature 25 degrees.