Chris Creekmore's skills and can-do spirit were so impressive that his new boss was considering him for advancement.
Those plans ended when the 36-year-old Omahan died Sunday after being pulled from the Platte River.
Creekmore had been driving a truck and picking up recycling materials for only four days, but he already seemed like a keeper, said his boss, Fred Welch of RR Waste Solutions. Welch said Monday that Creekmore finished before other drivers, made all his stops and had not been the subject of a single complaint.
“I thought to myself 'Man, this guy's going to be good,' ” Welch said. “Each fall we have to lay people off, but I was already thinking of Chris in terms of management possibilities.”
Creekmore and his brother, James Duncan, 19, of Omaha, were jumping off a log into the river at Two Rivers State Recreation Area about 4:15 p.m. Sunday when something went wrong, said Tom Wheeler, chief deputy of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. After one jump, Creekmore didn't come up right away.
When he did come to the surface, he started floating down the river and appeared to be unconscious. Wheeler said a sheriff's deputy, Duncan and a nearby woman pulled Creekmore onto a sandbar and did CPR until emergency personnel arrived.
A helicopter landed on a sandbar to take Creekmore to the Nebraska Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, Wheeler said. An autopsy is scheduled for this week. A memorial service will be June 29 in Newton, Kan.
Lona Duncan of Newton said her son treated strangers as friends. He liked to fish and work on cars, she said.
“He would say, 'Hey, mom, I love you,' ” she said. “Then he would give me the biggest hug and kisses.”
Lori Bonebrake recalled how her brother doted on her young daughter, Jayde.
“He gave his heart, soul and life to everyone around him,” she said. “He was always so happy.”
In addition to his mother, brother and sister, Creekmore is survived by his father, two sisters and a son.
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