A 25-year-old man whose body was recovered from Dillon Reservoir after a weekend paddleboarding accident is remembered as a tireless worker and social justice advocate.
The Summit County Coroner's Office on Monday identified Miguel Mendez, a 2015 graduate of Lewis-Palmer High School and a Colorado College graduate, as the victim of the accident, according to multiple reports. Mendez was reportedly separated from his board during a microburst storm on Saturday. Rescue crews found his body later that day.
The Summit County Sheriff's Office said that Mendez had a personal flotation device strapped to his board but was not wearing it when the storm hit.
“He was such a nice young man, gone too soon,” said Joanna Witt, whose daughter attended high school with Mendez. “A lot of people are shocked and sad about it.”
An avid soccer player, Mendez was named to The Gazette’s 2014 All-Area second team and played on a championship intramural team at Colorado College.
Mendez was a 2019 Public Interest Fellow at the Colorado Center of Law and Policy, where his primary focus was affordable housing initiatives, according to a video shared in 2020 by Colorado College.
He also worked as a paralegal at the Achieve Law Group in Denver, according to a LinkedIn bio. Mendez was a resident of Englewood, reported the Summit Daily News.
In an online speech to the Colorado College Career Center, Mendez said as the son of Mexican immigrant parents, he felt a responsibility to make his community “a better and more equitable place for everyone” and hoped to inspire others to do the same.
“There are people who look like me … that don’t have the opportunities as I did growing up, and who don’t have the support systems that I had,” Mendez said. “The more I learned about the privilege that I had, the more I realized what my mission in life was.”
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