Matthew Klowkowski was an undeclared sophomore last semester and spent his last few moments alive June 23 with friends on Lake Fontana, where he accidentally drowned.
The drowning occurred when a tube Klowkowski was on slipped away from him, according to Swain County Emergency Management director, David Breedlove.
The investigating officer was Jackie Fortener of the Swain County Sheriff’s Department, and the attempted rescue included the North Carolina Wildlife Department and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
“He was under water for several hours,” said Breedlove. “They had to determine that it was past the point that they could do anything.”
John Filkins was Klowkowski’s roommate, worked construction with him over the summer, and was with him the day he died.
In an interview, Filkins said he, Klowkowski and another friend were floating on tubes in Lake Fontana. The wind took Klowkowski’s tube away from him, he panicked and went under. A boat passed by and the driver helped look for Klowkowski, but then left to call for help.
“He was a great guy and had no enemies,” said Filkins.
Klowkowski also worked a part-time job at the Cullowhee Pizza Hut during June, where he was valued as an employee and friend, according to Manager John Douthit.
“He was a real laid back guy, real easy-going, always happy, and always found the good in everything,” said friend and fellow employee, Heather Marshall.
Former WCU graduate assistant, Margie Koch, taught Klowkowski English 101 and 102 during his freshman year. She said they often talked about poetry or music-his two passions.
“Matt was quiet in nature, but strong in personality and spirit,” said Koch. “Losing a student is difficult, but losing Matthew was incredibly difficult-he was very special to me.”
From friends, to fellow employees, to teachers, Klowkowski will be missed by many.