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'Everyone loved Michael': Best friend of teen killed in Florence sawmill accident shares the impact he made

Posted at 11:48 PM, Jul 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-17 09:14:54-04

FLORENCE (NBC 26) — Deep in Wisconsin's northwoods is the small town of Florence.

Along Central Avenue, you'll find signs posted on a storefront showing love for Michael Schuls.

"Funny, loving selfless, would do anything for anybody else," Schuls' best friend Leah Young said. "Everyone loved Michael."

Schuls died from injuries sustained in a recent accident at a sawmill where he worked.

He was just 16 years of age.

But the inspirations Schuls made lives on for Young — his best friend and Florence High School classmate — and the Florence community.

"It was kind of like a brother-sister bond," Young said. "He was always there to talk, no matter what."

"Always the main character at any event...Michael was a people pleaser, so everyone's going to miss him."

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16-year-old Michael Schuls and his best friend, Leah Young. Schuls died from injuries sustained in a sawmill accident in Florence near the Upper Peninsula.

Young said Schuls was an organ donor who saved several people's lives, including his mom's. Young said Schuls' liver was a match for his mother's.

"He was always there for everybody no matter who it was, no matter what they needed," Young said.

One of the signs on the storefront in tribute to Schuls from Young reads, "Dear Michael, Thank you for being my best friend! So glad I got the chance to live life with you! See you soon! Keep dancing in heaven. I love you more than life."

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"I know he's there, and I know he'd want me to be OK," Young said. "I'm going to miss him so much."

As does Florence's community of about 500 people.

Schuls' obituary reads that his funeral is July 15.

"I think the town's really going to miss him, but we all know that he's still there with us," Young said.

Young and other people in the area are also wearing bracelets that say "Mikey Strong."

Young said all proceeds from the bracelets are going to Schuls' family and to a scholarship in his name.

A GoFundMe page to help Schuls' family with medical bills and other expenses has raised more than $23,000.