Jessica Noland wants to know what happened to one of her good friends.
On June 19, the body of Michael Zorn was recovered from the Missouri River. Autopsy results are still pending.
“I still can’t process it. There’s too many things being said that don’t make any sense. It’s just hard to accept it,” she said.
While she waits for those results, she wants to pay tribute to Zorn through a balloon release at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, at Lake Contrary Park.
“He wouldn’t want us to just not celebrate him. Like, he was the kind of person that was like, ‘Come on, guys. Let’s do something,’” she said. “I just want everybody to try to just not be so down that he’s gone.”
Noland said she met Zorn five years ago and described him as a fun, goofy presence who wanted others to be happy.
“He never (had) a bad attitude or (was) mad. I mean, he just he was really fun to be around. He just was the life of the party, so to speak,” she said.
Zorn’s uplifting disposition is what confuses Noland about how he died. She said personal matters began taking a toll on him, saying he began spiraling and on June 16, was sentenced to 29 days in the Buchanan County Jail for a misdemeanor of resisting or interfering with an arrest. On June 19, he was discovered dead in the Missouri River.
Buchanan County Sheriff Bill Puett said the case is still under investigation.
“We are pursuing leads and following up on everything. The problem is that things are just slow going, trying to get everything figured out,” he said.
In the meantime, Noland wants to do all that she can to make sure her friend is remembered as something more than a breaking news headline.
“I just don’t like the fact that he’s in an urn and nobody’s celebrating his life ... He was a really good friend of mine. So I feel like he would be saying, ‘Thanks,’” she said.
Having held balloon releases for other people that she’s known, Noland said there’s a sense of community and celebration when something like that comes together.
“I don’t want everybody to be to just ... be so down that he’s gone because he wouldn’t be,” she said. “He would be like ‘Come on, guys. It’s going to be okay. Let’s just be happy and keep the memories we had and just live life until we meet again.”
In the confusion surrounding Zorn’s death, Noland said people coming together to grieve can be a great thing while they wait for the results from the sheriff’s office.
“It just makes me feel better knowing that a celebration of some kind was done for that person, whether it was a funeral, a balloon release or just eating at a barbecue,” she said. “Even if I just show up and release the balloons by myself, at least I can say I did something for him.”
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