Candlelight vigil held for teen after fatal snowmobile accident


A large crowd met at the indoor pool at Tecumseh Middle School Sunday for Jacob Schaedler. Photo submitted.

At 7 p.m. on January 3, the community gathered to hold a candlelight vigil for 17-year-old Tecumseh High School student Jacob Schaedler, who was killed that morning in a snowmobile accident in Kalkaska County. The vigil was held at the Tecumseh Community Pool, where Schaedler swam regularly as a member of the varsity boys swim team.

On January 3 in Coldsprings Township at approximately 8:30 a.m., Schaedler was riding a 2002 Arctic Cat snowmobile on Elk Lane when he lost control of the vehicle, which went off the road and crashed into a tree. Schaedler was ejected from the snowmobile. Deputies from the Kalkaska Sheriff Office, Frederic EMS and Station 6 Rescue responded to the scene to assist. Schaedler was eventually pronounced dead on scene. Speed was a factor in the crash, and Schaedler was not wearing a helmet, according to a sheriff reports. Authorities say alcohol was not involved.

Schaedler began swimming competitively at the age of eight, was a lifeguard, and mentored young children learning to swim.  He enjoyed his welding class at Lenawee Intermediate School District (LISD) TECH Center, and was a gifted artist. Sailboats were another one of his passions, and he did most of his sailing and work on sailboats with his father. 

Danielle Ward, President of Friends of Tecumseh Community Pool, organized the vigil. “My first instinct was that the community was really going to be hurting,” Ward said. “My daughter and son are both swimmers, and both were really close with Jacob. They needed to be with their swim family. I approved it with Jacob’s mom to make sure she was okay with the idea, and put the wheels in motion.”

Members of the girls and boys swim teams came to help at Ward’s request. “We purchased candles and collected pictures for a memorial video, and the girls sat down and came up with thoughts and poems they wanted to share with the community,” Ward said. “The swim family needed to be together, and that’s where Jacob belonged. He belongs in the water, and that was the perfect place to share our grief. Right now our community is just hurting, but it always pulls together and we always support our own.”

Ward said Jacob was a hard working boy and a loyal friend. “He swam with my daughter several hours a day for the past several years. He was one of the mentors on the team, and he took the challenge of stepping up and being the big kid people looked up to. It was a lot of pressure, but he handled it well. He made practice fun.”

Kristie Shaedler, Jacob’s mother, hopes some good will come from the loss of her son. Jacob was an organ donor and his organs will be given to people who would otherwise die without a transplant.

“He was a leader,” Kristie said. “Some of his teachers appreciated the way he led classes because he challenged them. He always wanted to think about the things he was being taught or the things people were saying. He challenged ideals and the thought process. He was very articulate, well spoken, and bright. His artwork, his drawings, they’ll make you think. He was the type of person who wanted to make you laugh or smile.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to establish a memorial scholarship in Schaedler’s name. Funds donated will be put towards the scholarship. Donations can be made at

The funeral service for Jacob will be held on Friday, Jan. 8 at 11 a.m. at the Tecumseh Center for the Arts, 400 N. Maumee St., and is open to the public. Memorial contributions may be made to the Friends of the Tecumseh Community Pool or North Cape Yacht Club Sail Camp.

The family is seeking additional photos of Jacob from friends and acquaintences. Photo jpegs can be emailed to


Tecumseh Herald


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Tecumseh, MI 49286

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