OTTAWA — The family of 24-year-old Steve Nkusi from Ottawa, known as a track star in the capital, says they believe his body was recovered from Lake Ontario after a drowning incident last weekend.
Family and friends say Nkusi was the glue who held everyone together.
“I’m not saying that just because he was my brother but he was a very special person. Maybe he was an angel that was sent just for a few years,” said Sandrine Mugeni, Nkusi’s sister.
Nkusi went missing Saturday while boating with friends near St. Catharines, Ont. He was near Sunset Beach celebrating a friend’s birthday when family members say he jumped in for a swim and never resurfaced.
On Tuesday, Niagara Regional Police recovered a body from Lake Ontario, but investigators have yet to confirm the identity.
“We’re still waiting for the coroner to confirm his identity, but it’s him,” said Mugeni.
Nkusi was from Rwanda but grew up and lived in Ottawa. He was a star basketball player at Ecole Secondaire Catholic Garneau in Orleans, where friends say he knew everyone.
“He was always the great guy you wanted to have at the party, the lunch table, the classroom, he was always the guy you wanted to be with,” said Steven Gaffney, a good friend of Nkusi’s.
The 25-year-old was a star on the track too as a high jumper. He represented Canada at the Junior Pan American Games. Nkusi was a member of the Ottawa Lions Cub.
The club shared a post on social media Wednesday saying in part, “The man known for his infectious smile made a significant impact on everyone who had the pleasure to cross paths with him.”
“I was in shock. I didn’t want to believe it,” said Yvan-Marcel Ntivumbura, Nkusi’s friend. “I thought it was a bad joke honestly.”
Nkusi had just graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in business. Ntivumbura said he planned to one day return to Rwanda and help his family business.
“He was helping out and telling me about all the new plans, the expansions and partnerships, he was looking forward to being more involved,” he said.
So the man known for his smile, family and friends say will be remembered for how often he made them do just that.
“I really believe his mission he had in his lifetime was accomplished,” said Mugeni.
“I am so proud of him.”
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