The mother of an 18-year-old Nelson man whose body was found in a Seattle lake yesterday says it is tragic his "young talented life was ended in Seattle alone".
Wynter Emerson's body was recovered from Seattle's Lake Union on Sunday morning local time.
He had been travelling through America and Canada on his own and went missing after attending the Bumbershoot music festival which was held near the lake on September 1.
In a written statement, Wynter's mother Ally described her son as a "happy, outgoing and gregarious young man".
"Even though there were so many that loved him, tragically his young talented life was ended in Seattle alone."
Wynter would be sadly missed by his loving brothers Tyler and Seth, as well as many friends in New Zealand and North America, Mrs Emerson said.
"We are working hard to bring Wynter back to Nelson as soon as possible"
Ally and Shon Emerson had been in regular contact with their son right up until his disappearance, but became worried after not hearing from him for about four days, family spokesman Peter Crighton said.
"As you do as a parent you think that, 'Oh, they're busy, they're doing things, they'll get back in touch' and unfortunately that wasn't the case.
"Shon and Ally were only aware the day before yesterday that things had really gone wrong," Mr Crighton said.
The former Nayland College student was a few months into a gap year before starting university next year, Mr Crighton said.
His wallet was found after he was reported missing and was later handed into police, Mr Crighton said.
A Facebook page set up to help find Wynter said he may have been slipped drugs.
Seattle detective Patrick Michaud said Wynter's body was found around 10.30am on Sunday local time and later positively identified.
There was no suggestion of foul play and the medical examiner was determining the cause of death, he said.
"Based on the missing person's report his friend was trying to take him home, at which point he kind of hopped out of the car and was never seen again.
"His friend was worried so he did call police, but they weren't able to locate him until yesterday morning."
It was possible Wynter had been under the influence of drugs when he left the car of his friend, who was a Seattle local, but police were awaiting a toxicology report to determine that, Mr Michaud said.
Family friend Susan Schuler said her son Brandon worked with Wynter at a Nelson fruit and vegetable store and he had come to their home to discuss his trip because they were from the Washington area.
"He was just so excited to go. He's just the nicest kid, he was always so happy and jovial."
Wynter's family had yet to decide whether they would fly to Seattle or wait for his body to be repatriated back to New Zealand, she said.
Ms Schuler said she had set up a PayPal account to receive donations towards any costs the family incurred in bringing Wynter home and for his funeral.
* Local and national donations can be made to KiwiBank account number 38 9013 000 98 73 00 with the reference Wynter
* International donations via Paypal.com can be made to Bringwynterhome@gmail.com
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