Those who knew Emmanuel Manny Palmer struggled Sunday to sort out how a budding young man, so strong and so robust, could be taken in a drowning.
By SCOTT CANON and LEE HILL KAVANAUGH
The Kansas City Star
The 16-year-old whod just wrapped up his sophomore year at Raytown High School and whod been using the weight room regularly to prepare himself to play outside linebacker with the varsity football team in the fall failed to cross a cove with friends at private Lakewood Lakes on Saturday.
That swimming accident cut short the life of a kid, said those who knew him, who was busting with good manners and impish fun, with great talent and even more potential.
As a sophomore, he held a spot on his high schools Camerata choir, an audition-based group that only rarely had room for anyone other than upperclassmen.
The choirs instructor, Susan Hazelrigg, said that in 31 years shed rarely cried during a performance. She joked that when she did, it was usually because things went badly. But then Manny sang Instrument of Peace in a solo at a state competition in Columbia this year. He was a natural bass, and the song required him to hit higher notes than he was usually comfortable hitting.
Hazelrigg couldnt hold back the tears.
Its one of my sweetest memories, she said. It was so gorgeous.
When he wasnt performing, she said, Manny was usually joking or cajoling classmates to get along.
She retired at the end of the school year, and Manny was among a number of kids who raised money to buy her a cocker spaniel puppy. In a video of her being presented with the dog, he was uncontrollably giddy at the idea of making his instructor happy.
One friend, Dominic Marchese, remembered Manny as a guy willing to try anything Frisbee, soccer, choir, skateboarding, football. And he was nice to everybody.
Another friend, Ciera Clark, said Manny was always distinctively upbeat. He was just really enthusiastic, she said, about everything.
Football coach Kevin Page said he had a very calm way about him. He was always smiling.
Emergency crews were called around 3:50 p.m. Saturday to the 200 block of Northwest Aspen Street, near Lake Drive. They found Mannys body about 6 p.m., said Lees Summit police spokesman Sgt. Christopher Depue.
A neighbor, Kathleen McKenna, said she was working in her yard when an ambulance pulled up and a boy ran up from the shore crying so hard, she said. I could hear him say, Hes still underwater! It was so horrible.
The cove was as wide as a football field, she guessed. The boys were apparently trying to swim across it.
The victims mother, 23-year-old sister and father came and waited as recovery teams searched. Several neighbors offered their condolences to the distraught family and waited with them, McKenna said.
It was so sad, she said, on what had been a beautiful summer day.
To reach Lee Hill Kavanaugh, call 816-234-4420 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To reach Scott Canon, call 816-234-4754 or send email to email@example.com.