The memory of a Clearfield High School senior killed in an accident two days before graduation was honored Tuesday when the boy's father went on stage during the graduation ceremony to collect his son's diploma.
"He deserved it. He worked hard for that diploma," said Bruce Day, father of 18-year-old Michael Day. The youth died in a parasailing accident Sunday on Lake Mead, outside Las Vegas."I picked up his diploma because I felt Michael would have wanted me to, Day said. "I felt it was Michael walking across that stage, not me." Members of the audience at the Dee Events Center at Weber State University offered a standing ovation as Day walked across the stage in place of his son, a gesture Day said he especially appreciates.
"It was a great tribute to Michael. I'm pleased the audience received it in that manner," he said.
The father and son took a group of clients from Day's business, International Freight Transport, to the lake as a customer appreciation gesture, Day said. Michael was parasailing, being towed behind a ski boat, on Sunday when the accident occurred.
"I don't know exactly what happened. Michael was an experienced parasailor, he knew how to do it. We were going along and all of a sudden the wind shifted or something, the parasail collapsed, Michael came down, and he was gone," his father said.
He described his son - at 6 feet 5 inches tall and 190 pounds - as "a very strong individual. He was big in stature and big in heart."
Michael planned to work in the family business for a year, go on an LDS mission and then train at the company's headquarters in Germany, Day said, before being assigned to one of the firm's international offices.
"He'd made his decision, he'd made his plans and knew what he wanted to do," Day said.
Clearfield High principal Tamara Lowe said the accident stunned the faculty and students.
"It was very difficult for everyone. Michael was a good kid, a real solid citizen," she said. "He was one of the good kids around here."
Having his father pick up Michael's diploma was "very touching and very kind," Lowe said. "It was hard for our kids to be happy about their graduation and still be aware of the tragedy."
"We believe it was his time," Day said. "I feel I was fortunate to be with him. If I wasn't, I would always believe that if I had been there, I could have done something. But I was there, and it was just his time."
Funeral services for Michael Day were scheduled for Thursday afternoon.