Friends, family say drowning victim made impact on Lexington community

Published: Jul. 5, 2020 at 9:58 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Family and friends are remembering a Lexington man who drowned at Cave Run Lake.

22-year-old Cubaka Nehemia Mutayongwa drowned after his kayak flipped over in the lake.

“Chui’s that one person who loved the community, anything that he could do to help the community,” said Pacific Mutayongwa, Cubaka’s brother. His first name was Cubaka but most people called him Chui.

“Chui always had a smile on his face. If he got in a room he was going to light the whole room no matter what,” said Elisha Mutayongwa, another of Chui’s brothers.

In 2012 he moved with his family from the Congo to the U.S.

“It was hard. It was hard. We didn’t know that much English back then,” said Pacific.

But it didn’t take long for Chui to make friends, leaving a big impression on the people he met.

“He had a big mind. He was intelligent, bright. Not being in America long, he understood things in a way that people born here didn’t. I knew that he would have a lot to offer,” said Adrian Wallace, a friend to Chuy.

Chui loved helping others. He taught Swahili to kids in Lexington, volunteered, and got involved with the Black Lives Matter movement.

He even met former Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and, former President Barack Obama. Chui’s dreams went global.

“He wanted to create more jobs in Congo and he had a pretty good plan on how to do that,” said Mary Morton, Chui’s girlfriend. She was on a kayak with him the day he died.

His family says he loved nature, a passion that was contagious.

“Hiking, biking, going outside. He is one that pushed me to loving nature,” Pacific explains.

Restaurant owner Mamadou “Sav” Savane, known in Lexington as Sav, was told about the search for a body in Cave Run Lake. He had no idea he knew the man who drowned, until he got a call.

“Sav, I’m so so sorry I hope I’m not the first one to inform you about Chui, but Chui died today,” Sav says, describing the call.

Shock led to despair.

“Chui I’m so so sorry, I’m so, so sorry, his life too soon, and knowing this boy was looking up at me, and knowing his ambitions, I’m sorry,” Sav says.

Those who knew Chui say he was happy for everyone and had an incredible work ethic. Sav was a mentor for Chui, who dreamed of opening his own business.

Sav says Chui was working at Sav’s Chill. When Sav announced he was closing his restaurant on Limestone, Chui planned to take over when the lease ends in October. He wanted to change the restaurant’s name and fulfill his dream of being a business owner.

“As a human being we all have our ambitions and stuff, we all say I want to do this tomorrow I want to do this next week, but only God knows,” Sav says.

Family and friends want everyone to remember Chui for who he was, what he stood for, and the things he did. He was smart, charming, funny, and had an unforgettable smile.

Sav says he plans on visiting Chui’s family tomorrow to give his condolences. Funeral arrangements are not yet known.

Copyright 2020 WKYT. All rights reserved.

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