Friends: Man who jumped into canal was 'great kid' - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Friends: Man who jumped into canal was 'great kid'

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Alex Nicolas Alex Nicolas

NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- Friends and relatives of the South Florida man who died after he fled from police and jumped into a canal, all while wearing handcuffs, are searching for answers regarding an incident that, officials said, began as a traffic stop.

One by one, friends of Alex Nicolas showed up Sunday at the North Miami Beach Canal where the 20-year-old took his fatal plunge. "Alex was one of my close friends," said Frank Quiroz, who praised his former classmate.

"This was a great person," Quiroz continued. "I met him in school. He was a great student. He was a great kid. Everybody loved him. Really, I'm not even lying when I tell you everybody loved this kid."

According to investigators, just after 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sunny Isles Beach Police officers conducted a criminal traffic stop in the area of 163rd Street and Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami Beach. "The subject was taken out from the driver's side of the vehicle. He was placed in handcuffs," said Miami-Dade Police Detective Elena Hernandez.

Police said Nicolas managed to slip away from authorities after he had been detained. "The subject then fled on foot from the officers, crossing Biscayne Boulevard and jumping into a nearby canal," said Hernandez.

With the assistance of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, officers pulled Nicolas out of the water. He was taken to Aventura Hospital, where he later died.

"What am I going to miss most about him? His face, his smiles, 'Yo, where the party's at?'" said Juan, another friend who came to pay his respects.

Another friend, who asked not to be identified, said he went to Alonzo and Tracy Mourning High School with Nicolas and remained in contact with him. "Last New Year's, we had a house party," he said. "We had fun, it was good. He was happy; he had a good time. I'm gonna miss him. He was an amazing kid."

Quiroz said he is perplexed by his friend's decision to flee from police. "To tell you the truth, that's my question," he said.

Nicolas' friends and family members gathered at his home Sunday. Close relatives said they are in mourning and did not wish to comment.

Police have not disclosed why Nicolas was pulled over or why he ran from officers. The investigation continues.

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