Body of Solon student pulled from Coralville Lake after canoe capsizes

Second person swims to shore, taken to Iowa City hospital

  • Photo

CORALVILLE — The body of a Solon High School student was pulled from the icy waters of the Coralville Lake late Monday morning, nearly 24 hours after the canoe he was in capsized.

According to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, 17-year-old Tanner Wymer and 51-year-old Michael Felton were on a canoe on the lake around 2:45 p.m. Sunday to take a photograph of a nearby home when a combination of wind, waves and current caused the fiberglass canoe to capsize. Felton was able to swim to the shore and was pulled from the water by neighbors. He was taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for evaluation and treatment.

Neither man was wearing a flotation device, nor were there any in the canoe, authorities said.

Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said Monday morning the efforts to find Wymer had shifted from a rescue operation to a recovery effort. The lake was dragged. Divers and boats equipped with sonar were also deployed, Pulkrabek said.

Pulkrabek said trees, debris and some ice on the lake has hampered the dragging operation. Divers and boats equipped with sonar have also been deployed.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office is being assisted by the North Liberty Police and Fire Departments, Solon Fire Department, Swisher Fire Department, Johnson County Ambulance, Iowa DNR and Metro Area Dive Team.

Solon Superintendent David Eidahl said one word he continued to hear Monday to describe Wymer was “compassionate.”

“How much of an impact this has had on our students and staff, along with our community, says a lot about the individual and the characteristics he possessed,” said Eidahl, who has been with the district since July 2015. “I’ve heard from a great student (to) a compassionate role model ... He was a role model for many, both inside the classroom and outside the classroom.”

Solon activities director Keith McSweeney remembers Wymer as a lighthearted kid in school hallways.

“He had a way to make people laugh,” McSweeney said. “I don’t think he took that side of himself too seriously. He enjoyed keeping things light.”

But, when it came to athletics, he was a fierce competitor, McSweeney said. Wymer excelled at a number of sports at Solon. He was a Class 2A district qualifier at 220 pounds in wrestling last season and placed fifth in the discus in class 3A in 2015. During the 2015 football season, Wymer was fourth on the team in tackles.

“He was just fiery,” he said. “He loved to compete and he loved to just get after it.”

Counselors from Grant Wood Area Education Agency, the Solon United Methodist Church and St. Mary’s Catholic Church were called to Solon schools on Monday, according to the school district. Additionally, support for students and families will be available from 7 to 10 p.m. at Solon United Methodist and immediately after school at St. Mary’s, the statement said.

Like what you're reading?

We make it easy to stay connected:

to our email newsletters
Download our free apps

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.
Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.