ST. JOSEPH — A good man with a heart of gold.
A cool dude.
One of a kind, a true gentle soul.
That is how family and friends of Cody Yergeau are remembering him as they mourn his passing.
His family confirmed Friday that Yergeau, 27, of St. Joseph is the man who was swept off the South Pier on Sunday and is presumed drowned. His body has not yet been found.
His sister, Courtney Yergeau, 29, said the family is finding some comfort in knowing he is in the lake that he loved.
“We are so thankful to the search teams. They’ve been so kind and informative. We can’t thank them enough for all they are trying to do to bring Cody home,” she said Thursday.
St. Joseph Public Safety Director Steve Neubecker said police were called at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday on a report of an attempted rescue at the South Pier off Silver Beach.
Two men, both 27 and from St. Joseph, were walking on the pier when a large wave swept Yergeau into the lake.
The U.S. Coast Guard and divers from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department have been unable to find him, and rough water has hampered their efforts, Sheriff Paul Bailey said earlier this week.
Courtney Yergeau said she and Cody were very close and interviewed together 12 years ago at Silver Beach Pizza as a brother/sister team. She said she is a server and bartender there and Cody started as a busboy and ultimately “did everything,” including working as a shift supervisor.
Silver Beach Pizza was closed for the day Monday after the owners, Jay Costas and Tony Bertig, and general manager David Costas learned of Yergeau’s passing. His family said they are grateful for that, and that the business is like a family.
Nikki Gergule, a co-worker and friend, said Yergeau cared deeply about his friends and was a huge family man and a hard worker.
Gergule said Yergeau helped her greatly when she started working at Silver Beach Pizza six years ago.
“Cody was one of the first boys in the kitchen to be the most welcoming. He just had something about him that was so comfortable. He would be anywhere you needed him and would help you with any pizza you rang in wrong and with no judgment,” she said. “He was the most happy-go-lucky guy and someone you wanted on every shift. He will forever be our brother.”
Gergule said Yergeau loved golf, the beach and going to Ryebelles in downtown St. Joseph for dinner.
Ashley Warren, an older sister of Cody Yergeau, said she grew up in the area but her husband, David Warren, is from Ohio and they lived in Chicago before moving to St. Joseph two years ago.
“My husband is not from here and he said it’s so amazing to see the massive amount of community support. We’ve gotten food deliveries from local businesses. It’s so sweet,” Warren said.
Courtney Yergeau said there is nothing in the world that she loved more than being Cody’s big sister.
“When we were little kids, we’d push our beds together and hold hands while we were sleeping,” she said. “He was just amazing. If he asked you how you’re doing he really cared, and he wanted an honest answer.”
Cody’s parents are Jannette Yergeau and Kenneth Yergeau. He was a 2012 graduate of Lakeshore High School.
His sisters said the family spent a lot of time at the beach and on the lake, and that Cody was a strong swimmer.
Courtney said the man who was walking with Cody on the pier is one of his dearest friends and “He’s absolutely distraught.” She declined to identify the friend.
She said she hopes something good comes of Cody’s death.
“Every time you hear about this, you think ‘we’ve all made that walk many times.’ You don’t think it’s going to happen to you,” she said. “I hope something can come of this because he meant so much to so many people.”