A 16-year-old Indiana boy who died last week after trying to save a friend from drowning will be buried Friday in Maine, where he spent most of his childhood.
Michael “Micky” Chadbourne, formerly of Portland, was one of four teenage boys who jumped into the Big Blue River in Edinburgh, Indiana, on June 6 after 16-year-old Sarah McLevish was swept over a dam and got caught in the churning water below, according to media reports.
The reports said the teenagers were swimming around noon in a popular recreation spot about 20 yards upriver from the dam, where the water below – the boil – was particularly dangerous because of recent rainfall. The type of dam, known as a low-head dam, is considered especially dangerous because it creates a strong backwash.
Chadbourne and Jason Moran jumped in after McLevish. They were followed by two other boys, who pulled Chadbourne and McLevish from the river, unresponsive. Moran went underwater; his body was recovered two days later.
McLevish remained in critical condition Monday.
Chadbourne was kept on life support until June 9 so that his organs could be removed for donation. A memorial service was held for him in Indiana on Friday.
His family members have since returned to Maine and will hold a funeral this Friday at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Portland, followed by a burial in Calvary Cemetery in South Portland.
Chadbourne lived in Portland through sixth grade, attending Riverton Elementary and Lincoln Middle schools. He moved to Franklin, Indiana, five years ago, when his stepfather got a new job there, said his uncle, Tony Napolitano.
Although Chadbourne had “tons of friends and tons of family” in Portland, his uncle said, he didn’t have a hard time making new friends in his new home. He became a standout athlete, playing football and running track for Franklin Community High School. He had just finished his junior year.
The Indiana town has rallied around all of the families affected by the incident, tying blue ribbons to tree trunks, holding fundraisers at restaurants and selling T-shirts with the phrase “Franklin Strong.”
Napolitano said he felt the love from the community while he was there in the days after the accident.
“Everything from prayers to fundraisers to hugs,” he said, “(there are) so many ways that community has stepped up.”
Still, he said, it was “a very natural decision” to bury his nephew in Maine.
Chadbourne and his family came back to the state a couple of times a year, most notably for annual week-long trips to Sebago Lake or Old Orchard Beach, where a huge group of relatives would rent a camp together.
“Camp was a big thing for our family,” said Angel O’Brion, his mother’s cousin.
Chadbourne was the oldest cousin on his mother’s side of the family and was always happy to play with the younger children. “Everybody really looked up to him,” O’Brion said.
Chadbourne’s relatives described him Monday as a lighthearted kid who was quick with a joke and loved to make people laugh.
Napolitano said his focus was always on “making other people feel good,” never trying to draw attention to himself.
The way he died, he said, reflected his character: “He’s a very selfless person.”