Kory Nagata is being remembered as a “great young man” who was respectful in all that he did, said Bill Haddow, a retired Hugh Boyd Secondary football coach where Nagata first found his love and talent for the game.
Nagata, who is a recent graduate of UBC Sauder School of Business as well as a member of the Thunderbirds’ football team, was sucked in by the current in the Fraser River while retrieving a football that had fallen into the water late Sunday evening.
Witnesses said he got the football, but had disappeared from view trying to get back to the dock was near The Deck Kitchen and Bar and the Pacific Gateway Hotel on Cessna Drive.
It wasn't until shortly before noon on Monday when emergency crews found his body near where he had disappeared.
“He was a typical high school student who loved to have fun and was full of energy,” said Haddow.
“When he found his passion and talent for (football), Kory put his energy into playing it and became the best he could.”
After high school, Nagata played for the Okanagan Suns followed by the UBC Thunderbirds.
Nagata, said Haddow, was a “positive leader” and was respected by his teammates because he was hardworking, had a respectful attitude and saw everybody on an equal footing. He was a “role model” among his peers, Haddow added.
“We just want to get the message out that for all the people who knew Kory like the players and teammates, we are all hurting real bad right now and we’re just rallying around each other and reaching out to the community who needs help during this time.”
On social media there has been an outpouring of grief as people remember a young man with a “contagious laugh,” “beautiful smile,” and knack for making others feel included.
“Everyone who knew him absolutely loved him. He was the most genuine man with the most humble soul,” posted Jana Bato.
“You had so much going for you, yet you always remained so humble; treating everyone you met with love and respect,” wrote Matthew Charles.
Many referred to him as a brother.
Richmond-Steveston MP Kenny Chiu tweeted, “It saddens me to learn of the tragic death of Richmondite Kory Nagata. Thoughts and prayers for his family during this time. Everyone, please be careful near the Fraser river.”
Nagata had also worked at Earls Richmond.