Local man and the Saluda River linked forever

The friends of the late kayaker say he’s left a legacy in the community.
Published: May. 15, 2023 at 11:31 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - John Derrick made hundreds of friends and had a lasting impact on a local waterway.

The friends of the late kayaker say he’s left a legacy in the community. Derrick spent much of his life on the Saluda River kayaking.

A friend of his and a kayaker says “John Derrick was a legend on the river. He was larger than life.”

Derrick is described as “larger than life” and someone that watched over everyone.

“When you were doing a trip on the river, there’s a leader showing you the way down and then there’s people going down, then there’s a person in the back called a sweeper. John was always the sweeper because he wanted to make sure everybody was safe, and everybody was taken care of,” said Cyndi St. John, a fellow kayaker, “I don’t think, I mean, I don’t think my life will ever be the same. I think John he is irreplaceable, and I’m not the only person that feels that way you just can’t replace him.”

Derrick’s friends say a few weeks ago he was diagnosed with cancer and passed away during the first week of May.

Michael Mayo owns Palmetto Outdoors he says “In 2015, John Derrick came walking up with a Styrofoam cooler that was all busted. Styrofoam is the worst thing we can see on the river. From that day forward we never allowed any more Styrofoam. We never allowed any of our customers to take a Styrofoam cooler down this river again.”

Saturday people came out to spread Derrick’s ashes at an area of the river called Pop Up.

Amy Abercrombie came to say goodbye today.

“I’ve got mixed emotions I’m sad but I’m coming to peace with it. It’s been a very difficult week. I just feel I will have this connection with him one last time no until I see him on the other side of the river,” said Abercrombie.

A special Kayak sits outside near Palmetto Outdoor in memory of Derrick.

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