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Friends remember Tyler Thesen

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21-year-old dies in a canoeing incident

A late night paddle on Alta Lake turned tragic last week when a canoe capsized in the frigid water. Two men were in the canoe at the time, and only one managed to swim back to shore.

The RCMP were called at approximately 11:45 p.m. on Thursday, March 27, but there was nothing that could be done.

The body of Tyler Martin Thesen, a 21-year-old Whistler resident, was discovered by an RCMP dive team on the afternoon of March 30 after almost three days of searching at the north end of the lake. The search involved friends of the victim, the local RCMP detachment, Whistler Fire and Rescue, and police dog teams, dive teams and helicopter teams from the city.

A local service was held for friends in Whistler on April 2, and a guestbook has been created at WildInWhistler.com (www.wildinwhistler.com) for friends to leave messages to Thesen.

Originally from Coquitlam, Thesen moved to Whistler four years ago. He worked at Tommy Africa’s until last April, when he moved to Calgary to earn some money doing promotions for a Web site company.

He moved back to Whistler again in December, and was working to open an online vacation planning business with friends and the aid of a government grant. He was torn between going to school, and returning to Calgary to work.

In addition to his job as a promoter for Tommy’s and business plans, Thesen helped to organize events, like Whistler’s famous full moon parties, and all night parties with Hibernation.

Described as a warm and honest person with a good sense of humour about the world and himself, Thesen made friends easily.

"He was a guy who really lived his life to the fullest," remembers Alastair Gregor, who met Thesen shortly after he arrived in Whistler and worked with him at Tommy Africa’s.

"He was a great skier, great fun to be around. He was bright, intelligent, helpful… We spent a lot of time together at Tommy’s, and I really got to know what he was like. He was one of a kind, believe me.

"They say youth is wasted on the young, but he was a person who loved it, who lived it, and when he died, he died having fun. That was Tyler. As soon as the ice was gone, he was out canoeing because that’s what he loved to do."

Lexi Moon knew Thesen for more than two years and they worked together on the full moon parties.

"He was this awesome, supportive friend," she says. "He smiled a lot, all the time really. He had that kind of personality that made everyone feel good.

"He was the type of person who could walk into a group of strangers, and bring everyone together by saying something, and get everyone smiling.

"He was big smiles and big hugs. He was just fun all of the time."

Crystal Carson was one of Thesen’s roommates when she first moved to Whistler, and they worked together to organize and promote parties. She went to Calgary with him last summer, and spent Christmas with his family.

Although Carson has a lot of memories with Thesen, she keeps coming back to a conversation they had the night before he died.

"He made kind of a strange comment, that he had to decide whether he wanted to be a free spirit or start being more responsible. I guess he wanted to be a free spirit," says Carson.

"He was just an unbelievable guy. He was so intelligent, he had a lot of motivation, and he loved to party. His nickname in our house was Dirk Diggler because he was always a bit of a ladies’ man."

He was also resourceful, she remembers, and had a way of making money and finding work for himself.

In the guestbook, friends also remembered Tyler’s smile, his spontaneity and his sincerity. His dancing also got a few mentions, as did his penchant for money making schemes and business plans – no one doubted that he would have been successful one day.

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