Search teams have found the body of a 29-year-old Genoa volunteer firefighter who drowned last month after his kayak overturned on the Loup River, Nance County Sheriff Ben Bakewell said. 

Brett Swantek was trying to go over the Loup Public Power District diversion dam on the Loup River on May 25 when his kayak tipped over at about 6 p.m., Bakewell said in a news release.

Searchers found his body on the river Tuesday afternoon, the sheriff said.

Swantek's grandfather, Joe Swantek, said his grandson loved the outdoors and was experienced as a kayaker. 

"He got caught up in circular motion in water, and it flipped his kayak," said the elder Swantek, describing it like a washing machine.

The cold water from recent rainfall and strong current sucked Swantek under, his grandfather said.

Strong currents prevented people on the river banks from reaching him, and area fire departments and rescue squads, along with sheriff's deputies, began looking for him around the dam and downstream.

Search efforts continued in the days after, and one day more than 100 people searched along the river for signs of Swantek's body.

Those efforts were halted temporarily as waters rose in the Loup River and approached flood stage, but resumed later that week.

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"It’s really been tough on our family," the 78-year-old Swantek said last week. 

He's proud his grandson, along with his fellow Genoa volunteer firefighters, helped their community amid flooding in March. 

Brett Swantek helped his grandparents after their basement flooded, Joe Swantek said.

"He was a young man that wouldn’t ever brag," the elder Swantek said. 

Brett Swantek competed in motocross events and worked at Curry's Motor Sports in Columbus as sales manager. He was the top salesman recently, his grandfather said.

He was a good husband to his wife, Katie, an EMT on the Genoa Rescue Squad, and a "good daddy" to his 2-year-old son, Lane, Joe Swantek said.

"He'll be missed."

A benefit fund for the Swantek family has been set up at Genoa Community Bank. Checks should be made out to Benefit for Katie and Lane Swantek, Genoa Community Bank, P.O. Box 607, Genoa, NE, 68640.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.


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