The family of Steve Nkusi, a young Rwanda-Canadian man, who had been missing since Saturday, August 21, when he went for a swim in Lake Ontario, Canada, has spoken out, pointing out that they are relieved that his body was finally found after four days of searching.
Nkusi, 24, a former track and field athlete, who had recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in commerce majoring in finance, hadn’t been seen since entering the water at Sunset Beach, St. Catharine’s, after he jumped off a board he and several friends were hosting a birthday party.
Nkusi’s sister, Sandrine Mugeni, on Wednesday told CBC Hamilton in an interview that they were relieved that his body was found Tuesday after several days of searching.
“We’re grateful for that,” a sobbing Mugeni said in a phone interview, adding that his family had been holding on to the hope that search teams would find him.
Though his body was yet to be found, it had been presumed that he had drowned, with many of his friends on social media expressing grief and shock. The hashtag #RIPSteve has been trending since the news broke.
A statement published by Niagara Regional Police on August 24 did not name the body found as that of Nkusi stating that investigations are still ongoing but friends and family already affirmed the news.
“On August 24, 2021, at approximately 1:15PM, the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) received a 911 call from a member of the public who was on a boat in Lake Ontario. The member of the public called to report having found a body in the water,”
“A vessel from the NRPS Marine Unit responded to the Niagara on the Lake location approximately 4 kms. east of the Welland Canal, approximately 500m offshore. The body of a male was recovered and transported to Canadian Coast Guard Station in St. Catharine’s by the NRPS Marine Unit,” the Police statement reads, adding that the body was sent to the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto, for a post-mortem and positive identification.
The discovery of the body brought an end to the frantic search of Nkusi, whose death has shattered many of his friends who described him as loving, kind, talented, friendly and brilliant.
He was said to be an ambitious young man with business and modeling ambitions as well as charity interests back home in Rwanda where his parents relocated back to retire after 18 years in Canada.
Nkusi, a former competitive track athlete for Canada, who also worked for the Canadian government and had ambitious business plans after graduating from the University of Ottawa, and had plans to return to Rwanda to support his parents’ hotel and do charity work, including build homes for the needy together with his friends.
The talented youngster represented Canada in high jump at the 2015 Junior Pan American Games. He was born in Rwanda, and grew up in the Orléans area of Ottawa. He attended École élémentaire catholique des Voyageurs and École secondaire catholique Garneau.
Many young Rwandans who were close to Nkusi continue to share messages of pain and grief on different social media platforms, with many stating that they are shattered by his predicament. A GoFundMe page set up by Athia Kabanguka to support his family has so far raised $60,097, surpassing the target of $50, 000.
“Hello everyone, First of all, thank you all so much for the kindness and generosity you have shown Steve’s family these past few days; they are forever grateful for your tremendous support,”
“As some of you may know, after continued search efforts in the waters at Sunset Beach, Steve’s body was found yesterday afternoon. Rest in peace dear Steve, you are so loved by many. Please continue to pray and wrap your arms around the family as they deal with a loss so great,” an update on the page reads.
Details of the burial are yet to be communicated.