GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Family members are struggling to cope with the loss of a 24-year-old Byron Center man who died in a Saturday morning boating accident on Lake Michigan.
Matthew Boomstra’s mother, Debra, told 24 Hour News 8 that she still can’t believe what happened.
“I never thought I would lose a child. I never dreamed of it. Usually it’s the other way around. A child usually loses a parent first. I still think it’s a nightmare. I wake up today thinking, ‘Oh, that’s not true,’ but it is true,” she said.
Ottawa County sheriff’s deputies said Boomstra was in a boat with 27-year-old Travis Buckley, 23-year-old Jennifer Hielkema and 24-year-old Alberto Diaz when it hit the outside wall of the Pigeon Lake Channel north pier in Port Sheldon Township. Boomstra was the only passenger killed. The three others were hospitalized.
Debra Boomstra described her son as an “easy-going kid.”
“He liked to ride dirt bikes, boat. He really did enjoy school. He was a graduate of Byron Center High School and he was a hard worker. He worked for Gordon Food Service as a warehouse selector. He’s been employed with Gordon’s since he was 17 years old. He’s always happy. Matthew is going to be missed by a lot of people,” she said.
Matthew Boomstra’s grandmother Geraldine Schuhman is also struggling with the loss. She described him as a family-oriented man who enjoyed the outdoors and spending time with her.
“I describe Matthew was my best friend. He’d call and say, ‘Grandma, what’s for lunch,’ and then he’d come over and have lunch with me. And if I wanted yard work done, last week, he’d come and fertilized my lawn and got my patio furniture out,” Schuhman said. “He was just an all-around good kid.”
Schuhman said Boomstra bought the boat the crashed only two weeks ago and was excited to take it out.
“Friday, he picked me up from the hospital because I had surgery and he come here and I bought him supper and he said we’re going to launch the boat with my friends and then away he went,” Schuhman said.
Family members want Boomstra to be remembered for the person he was instead of focusing on the way his life ended.
“He’s just a real good kid. I’m not saying that because he’s my child. It’s the truth. He’s a real good kid. He always came around, always came around. He moved out when he was 18, but he always came back to see me. Everybody will miss Matthew and I just hope that his friends still come around and talk and everybody sticks together and remembers Matthew from this day forward,” Debra Boomstra said.
She said she hopes one day to have some form of closure.
“Matthew’s life was just beginning at 24. Now he won’t ever get married. We won’t have grandchildren from him. God takes you for a reason. We don’t know what that reason is, but one day we might,” she said.
Authorities have not released Boomstra’s cause of death. They are still investigating what caused the crash, but did say conditions were foggy at the time.