Dozens of grief stricken friends and family members pay an emotional tribute to drowning victim A.J. Mapa, 21, a recently returned missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who died Saturday, April 27, 2019. Photo: Utah Co. Sheriff’s Office/Twitter
UTAH COUNTY, Utah, July 27, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — There was an outpouring of emotion in Provo Canyon on Saturday night as family and friends mourned the loss of a 21-year-old man recently returned from a mission to Tonga for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Albert John “AJ” Mapa, 21, of West Valley City, was swimming at the Olmstead Diversion Dam in Provo Canyon on Saturday about a mile above Battle Creek Falls when he went missing about 5:35 p.m.
“He jumped from the bridge and didn’t come up from the water,” said Utah County Sheriff’s public information officer Spencer Cannon.
Search and rescue teams, along with deputies from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office joined North Fork and Sundance fire crews in the search for Mapa’s body, which was recovered at about 8:50 p.m., 35 feet downstream from where he went into the water.
Cannon told Gephardt Daily searchers in a rubber boat located Mapa’s body and brought him to shore, where a gathering of friends and family members struggled to maintain their composure.
After several tearful moments, many of those present broke into song, paying tribute to Mapa with one of his favorite Tongan hymns, according to Cannon.
Gephardt Daily will update this story as more information is made available.