Friends remember Navy veteran after death in Coosa River kayaking incident

(WIAT) — Friends and family are remembering the life of Zachary Winkle, a Navy veteran, Childersburg resident and a graduate of the University of Montevallo.

Winkle died over the Fourth of July weekend after a kayaking accident on the Coosa River.

“He could have been an engineer, he could have been an architect, he could have been a builder,” said Phil Hurst, a friend of Zachary Winkle’s. “He was, I believe, a Seabee in theNavyy, so I don’t know, but at 28 years old, we have no clue on what we might have missed.” 

People who knew Winkle well say he was an energetic, strong-willed, happy man with an enthusiasm for life and a smile for everyone.

“He was just a great guy to be around,” said Hurst.

Winkle was pronounced dead at a Talladega County hospital around 1:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon, after his kayak capsized in the river, according to Talladega County officials.

Because of his service, his ashes will be interned at the Alabama National Cemetery. Hurst, a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, which escorts the bodies of military members to their final resting places, says he is working to get a group of riders to lead the procession to the cemetery on Friday.

Before that procession, a memorial will be held at Orr Park in Montevallo at 11 a.m.

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