Man who drowned saving friend on Lake Minnetonka was sous chef at Minneapolis restaurant

Deveric Stokes was just 29 years old.

Big-hearted, kind, talented, positive, spiritual and passionate is how Deveric Stokes Jr. is described in a GoFundMe that was created this week to help his family cover funeral expenses. 

The 29-year-old's body was recovered by divers in approximately 55 feet of water on Lake Minnetonka on Monday, four days after he went under and didn't resurface after helping save a friend who was struggling in the water. 

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office reported that Stokes, who was unidentified at the time, went missing July 16 after jumping in the water to help a swimmer who was struggling. 

A woman from a group of nine adults on a pontoon had gone into the water and was struggling when two women and Stokes jumped in to help her. The three women made it back onto the boat, but Stokes didn't. 

His body was recovered around 1 p.m. Monday in Lake Minnetonka's Lower Lake. 

"DJ made a huge impact on so many lives in his 29 years. Words can’t adequately describe the kind of person he was....big-hearted, kind, talented, positive, spiritual, passionate, charismatic, a chef that put soul into whatever he cooked," the online fundraiser explains. "He got his love of hospitality and cooking from his mom who had an open door and was always feeding people and taking care of them."

Stokes was a sous chef at Hai Hai, a southeast Asian street food restaurant located at 2121 University Ave. NE in Minneapolis.

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In a tribute to him on social media, Hai Hai said Stokes was known to listen to gospel music and "singing along beautifully" while food-prepping on Sunday mornings. 

"We miss him so much. It hasn’t set in yet and it’s not right that something so tragic happened to someone so young with such a bright future ahead. Hai Hai will never be the same again," the tribute says. "We will do our best to honor your memory and make you proud."

The GoFundMe has so far raised more than $4,300 for Stokes' family. 

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