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'He left early': Remembering Will Schlotec, who died after jumping into ‘the Deeps’ Saturday

Will Schlotec (Photo courtesy of Nicki Seibert)1 / 3
Amity Creek flows fast on Sunday afternoon, swollen by Saturday’s rain. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com2 / 3
Guardrails along a hiking trail above Amity Creek in the area of the Deeps. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com3 / 3

Will Schlotec had an unparalleled zest for life and heart full of love that was widely reciprocated.

"You'd wish that many kids could emulate his spirit and enthusiasm for life and his gusto," his lacrosse coach, Rick Heimbach, said. "He was one of God's people, and he left early."

Will died over the weekend after jumping into Amity Creek on Saturday evening. The 15-year-old was remembered fondly as hard-working and adventurous and as a force of nature.

"He was a herculean kid, no question about that," Heimbach said. "I think sometimes he thought he was invincible."

On Sunday the water was turbid and violent as the weekend's rains washed down the falls below a footbridge near a group of friends who silently watched the water and mourned Will's death.

Meanwhile, hundreds of comments were accumulating on Will's last Instagram post as friends said goodbye.

"God it's hard to type when I'm bawling my eyes out," wrote Shay Callaway. "You'll always be one of the greats to me."

 Members of the Fay family toss a bouquet of flowers into Amity Creek in memory of Will Schlotec, 15. Photo by Steve Kuchera

A GoFundMe page was launched to raise money to help the Schlotec family, who did not wish to make a statement Sunday. That can be found at gofundme.com/rememberingwilljobyschlotec.

"His death leaves a huge hole in the Duluth East community, the Duluth lacrosse community, the Lakeside neighborhood, and in the hearts of his friends and family," family friend Nicki Seibert wrote on the fundraiser page. She told the News Tribune Will was "a genuinely nice kid" who was quick to help out.

Will reportedly jumped from an area known as "the Deeps" while heavy rains continued to roil the creek on Saturday. After he did not immediately resurface, first responders were called at about 5:20 p.m. Will was found unconscious well downstream, near the railroad tracks over Lester River, at about 5:40 p.m., the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office reported.

He had no pulse when he was pulled from the river and was taken to St. Luke's hospital. Authorities said early Sunday that Will had died.

Will Schlotec played lacrosse for the Duluth Wolfpack. (Photo courtesy of Nicki Seibert)

"It is truly every parent's nightmare. Our whole family's hearts go out to Will's family," said Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, whose son played lacrosse with Will. "He was vibrant, kind, loyal, so much fun, so liked."

While a popular though unsanctioned swimming hole, many have been injured or killed jumping from the Deeps over the years. In June a 22-year-old man was pulled from the water with a cut on his head; in 2011 a 13-year-old boy drowned after being swept away.

On Saturday first responders said conditions in the water were "very bad," and that debris was flowing down the stream.

"Hopefully what he left behind is Will can inspire other kids in both energy and spirit," Heimbach said, "and also inspire us in choices that we make."

Brooks Johnson

Brooks is an investigative/enterprise reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.

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