UPDATE: Drowned man leaves family, police don't suspect foul play

Tuesday, June 1, 2010 | 6:33 p.m. CDT; updated 9:04 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 2, 2010

COLUMBIA — Details surrounding the cause of Jean Magabokenda’s drowning still remain unclear, but the Columbia Police Department does not suspect foul play, Public Information Officer Jessie Haden said.

Mike Hood of Columbia Parks and Recreation expressed his condolences for the family and said the department is currently working with the police and fire departments to gather more information.

Jean Magabokenda, 35, died Monday evening after drowning at Stephens Lake. Magabokenda, who was found underwater in the swimming area, was unresponsive when authorities arrived on the scene at 7:11 p.m. He was transported to the University Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7:37 p.m.

Magabokenda was a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He came to the United States at the end of 2008 where he stayed in Jefferson City before moving to Columbia earlier this year.

Magabokenda is survived by his wife, Gicanda, and seven children.

“We appreciate any support for his family because they have a long road ahead of them,” Anne Zellhoefer, development coordinator for Refugee and Immigration Services of the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City said.

Currently, Stephens Lake has a “swim at your own risk” policy, Hood said. The park has safety devices on site as well as an emergency phone. Additionally, there are numerous signs around the park outlining safety procedures and warning swimmers of risks.

“We will be reviewing all procedures and policies,” Hood said.  The department does this after any serious accident or injury occurs.

Once more information about Magabokenda’s death is available, the department will decide if changes to emergency information or procedures are necessary.

Details regarding services for Magabokenda will be determined after his autopsy is complete, said Pastor Sam Whatley of Columbia Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which Magabokenda attended.

According to the Boone County medical examiner, Magabokenda’s autopsy will be completed Tuesday night.


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