ST. JOSEPH — A 45-year-old St. Joseph man lost his life Friday in a mishap on the St. Joseph River in Royalton Township during his rescue of a child struggling in the water.

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office in a news release said it is believed that the man drowned. Though police did not release his identity, family members identified him Monday as Matthew Ryan Kihlstrand. His obituary is printed in today’s Herald-Palladium.

Police say two adults and three children were enjoying a day on the river on a pontoon boat about a mile down river from the Jasper Dairy boat launch.

Police received a 911 call at about 7:15 p.m. about a person in distress and missing in the river. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Royalton Township Fire Department and the Berrien Springs Oronoko Township Fire Department responded with personnel and boats. The Great Lakes Drone Co. and the Great Lakes Search and Recovery Co. also assisted.

The initial investigation revealed that a child began struggling in the water and one of the adults (Kihlstrand) jumped in and successfully rescued the child. But he went under water and could not immediately be found.

Kihlstrand’s body was later recovered from the river about a half-mile down river from where he was last seen.

An autopsy will be performed at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker School of Medicine, the sheriff’s office said.

Contact:, 932-0359, Twitter @HPSwidwa