Remembering Michael Zapletal 1 Year Later

By: Brian Dorman Email
By: Brian Dorman Email

Maple Hill, KS (WIBW)--It has been one year since 9-year-old Michael Zapletal went missing in the Kansas River.

After a relentless search his body was never found and his memory not forgotten. It has been a year that the family of six has had to lean on one another and on their strong faith in God.

It was on this day that search crews from all over rushed to Maple Hill to help find Michael. Today his father - who feels responsible for the accident - has mixed feelings.

"Mostly I’m remembering a lot of details that happened that day," John Zapletal said, “We came out here, I know I made a lot of mistakes when we came out here. We really shouldn't have been in the river. It was about one-half foot deep; it was deceptive."

What was a little fun in the water on a hot summer day changed their lives forever.

"Michael actually asked twice to go back a different way and I said, 'no were going this way.'” That's a memory that John has a hard time forgetting. But he says through God his family has made it through.

“Hopefully by this happening, people will draw closer to God. That’s what we want."

"People have been so good to us in remembering him in prayer, our family in prayer, and turning to God," Linda Zapletal said.

In this year Michael’s family says he has been remembered at holidays - thoughts of him pop up riding his bike - and they say they will never forget his giant smile. John says, he has been changed in a big way. "Michael and I have switched roles in a way. A son sees his father as an idol and now we have switched. I idolize Micheal. I want to be where he is."

The Zapletal’s say they still hold out hope that Micheal will be found and they still visit the river often to pray.


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