REDDING, Calif. - Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil honoring 33-year-old Kao Saefong of Redding.
Saefong was canoeing on the Sacramento River Sunday when the vessel overturned and he was unable to make it to safety.
Family and friends showed up to light candles in the area where he drowned, near the South Bonneyview boat ramp in Redding. Many shared stories and memories of the man they knew well, one who had a large impact on the Northstate community, his family said.
One of his coworkers said he was a wonderful man.
"He didn't have any enemies. He was the kindest man you could ever meet. Happy. Never upset. Just a positive, positive person," said Elizabeth Bailey, who worked with Saefong for six years.
Seafong was with another unidentified man when both were dumped into the swift and cool waters. Saefong disappeared, while his companion was pulled to safety by a drift boat.
"The water is very, very cold," said Shasta County Sheriff's Lieutenant Tom Campbell. "You get into the river without wanting to get in the river, let's say your raft, your boat flips over, you get cold very quickly, it takes your breath away, and you begin to struggle very quickly."
Saefong's body was positively identified Wednesday and pulled from the river after being found by the Shasta County Sheriff's boating safety unit.
The memorial candles were left to float in the Sacramento River Wednesday evening to honor Kao Saefong.
His friends have set up a memorial fund to help his family with funeral cost and other expenses. You can find more information about that here.