05/23/2015 15:26 EDT | Updated 05/23/2016 01:59 EDT

John Danilkiewicz, B.C. Man Who Died In Mexico, Was 'Large-Hearted, Generous'

John Danilkiewicz, a B.C. man who died in a boating accident in Mexico, is remembered by his mother as generous and compassionate.

VANCOUVER - The mother of a British Columbia man who died in a boating accident in Mexico says he was a big-hearted, generous man who always reached out to help others.

Betty Danilkiewicz said her son John, 64, died when the boat ran into strong winds last Tuesday on Lake Chapala near Guadalajara.

"He was wonderful. Ask anybody," said Betty, her voice breaking. "He'd give anybody anything. I'm going to miss him terribly. He was a big part of my life."

She said she learned Thursday that her son's body had been found close to the shore. She said his good friend Zane Bennett, who he grew up with in Edmonton, also died in the accident.

Mexican media have reported that another man was aboard the boat when it departed, but there have been conflicting reports about whether a third body was found and the person's nationality

Now, friends and family of John Danilkiewicz are mourning him on a Facebook memorial page, where he is being remembered as an "amazing" man who gave everyone a second chance.

Betty, 85, said her son retired about a decade ago from his sheet metal business in Port Coquitlam, B.C., and moved to Mexico where he later opened a Royal Canadian Legion bar.

She said the sailboat didn't belong to Danilkiewicz, but he was interested in sailing and owned a motorboat at one time.

He lived with his wife, Shirley, and had two sons, a stepson and a grandson, to whom he was deeply devoted, Betty said. A funeral was expected to be held in Mexico next week.

Danilkiewicz even built a home next door to his own in Mexico so his mother could stay there six months a year. Betty recalled her reaction when her son showed her the building plans.

"I said, 'What is it? What are you going to do with it?' He said, 'That's your house, mom,'" she recalled with a chuckle.

Danilkiewicz's niece, Katy, said she was in shock and her uncle was a "great man."

"He was large-hearted, generous, compassionate," she said. "He was one of those people that when you meet him, it was always open arms."

Foreign Affairs sent a statement that said it would not release any identities, but Canadian consular officials were in contact with local authorities and providing assistance to families.

"Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with the affected families during this difficult time," the statement said.

— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.


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