New artificial reef created in memory of teen killed in boating accident

John Michael Baker, 17, loved to fish, dive, family says

DANIA BEACH, Fla. – A South Florida woman lost her son in a tragic boat accident three years ago. But Jamie Baker has turned the memory of her son into a home for wildlife deep in the sea.

"Creating this reef is my way of keeping his memory alive and giving people something they can enjoy and his passion for the water," Baker said. 

John Michael Baker was 17 in 2015 when he was with several friends on the water when the boat they were on hit a low-lying bridge along a Fort Lauderdale water way. 

John, who suffered several head and neck injuries, died at the scene.

Jamie Baker watched Monday as tons of concrete were prepared to be deployed 70 feet into the water Tuesday to build what could be Broward’s County’s largest artificial reefs.

"We'll be using our dynamic system that will allow us to very accurately move over the top of the divers and move these heavy objects down to the sea floor, while we communicate with the divers," Robert Carmichael, of Project Baseline, said. 

A total of 650 tons of concrete structure will create the reefs just north of Birch Park. John's mother said she is ecstatic to not only contribute to South Florida wildlife, but that this is all in honor of her son.

The John Michael Baker Foundation and Coastal Conservation Association chapter in Broward County partnered to raise roughly $100,000 for both reefs, one of which will be a fishing reef and the other a memorial reef. 

"Their son's tragic passing was a thing that was really difficult for the community here, because he was known for being a fisherman. He was known for being a diver. It was a natural fit to him to have a reef dedicated to him," said Mike Lambrechts, president of the Broward County chapter for the Coastal Conservation Association.

The reefs will be a new home for wildlife and a new adventure for divers in memory of a young man who loved the sea.

"He'll be diving this reef," Baker said. "His soul will."