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Family mourns kayaker from Mass. who drowned in Vermont lake

Aidan Connolly, 27, of Roslindale died while kayaking in Vermont.

One of two Massachusetts men who drowned Tuesday after their kayak overturned in a lake in Vermont was remembered by his family as “the greatest son you could imagine” who was “all about happiness.”

Aidan Connolly, 27, of Roslindale, was kayaking with Nicholas Samuels, 29, of Weston, on Seymour Lake Tuesday morning when treacherous weather caused the water to become choppy, with significant ice and slush. A witness saw Connolly and Samuels trying to swim to shore, but they went under the water and did not resurface, according to Vermont State Police.

Connolly worked at Tesla since graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he was a pitcher on the club baseball team, according to his father, Robert Connolly.

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He lived in Roslindale Square in a condominium he bought two years ago and before that lived with his family in Brookline and West Roxbury. While he was a student at Brookline High School, he played baseball and ran cross-country, Connolly said.

Connolly said Aidan was one of three children. He had two older sisters, Marjorie and Nora. His mother is Nancy Kelleher.

“The most accurate thing for me to say about Aidan is that he was the greatest son you could imagine,” Connolly said in an e-mail to the Globe. “When I think of Aidan, I think of his wonderful smile and of the joy that was at the core of his being — and the joy he brought to others. He was all about happiness and being in the moment. Remembering his smile and his eager happiness brings us comfort at this terrible time.”

Members of the Samuels family could not be reached for comment by the Globe. In a statement to WCVB-TV, the family said Nicholas Samuels was a graduate of Wayland High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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“Nicholas’s time on Earth was tragically cut short. He was a vibrant 29 year-old intellectual and outdoorsman who loved life and lived it to its fullest,” the statement said, which is posted to the WCVB website.

Seymour Lake is in Morgan, a town with a population of 638 in the northeast corner of Vermont.

Authorities said the pair had set out in a single kayak from a protected cove where the conditions on the open lake were not apparent. The weather got worse while they were on the water, with increasing rain and strong winds, police said.

Morgan resident David Bullock, who has lived on Seymour Lake for 15 years, said Tuesday’s weather was like a hurricane.

“We’ve never seen the wind blow more extreme than it did yesterday,” Bullock said. “It looked like the ocean out there, with whitecaps.”

Bullock said the spot where Connolly and Samuels entered the water was calm. But once they got out on the lake, they would have been fighting fierce winds to get back, he said.

“It’s very sad,” he said. “Everyone here is so upset about it.”


Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.