As authorities continue looking for answers in the weekend death of a Millard West student, school district officials are remembering Blake McKune as an athlete and an aspiring firefighter.
"Blake was a wonderful young man, and our hearts go out to his family," says Millard Public Schools spokesperson Rebecca Kleeman.
"At 17 years old, Blake was busy in school and sports and clear about what he wanted for his future. He was enrolled in the Fire Academy at Metro Community College and actively pursuing his goal to become a fireman. Blake’s passions included rugby and wrestling, and he developed close friendships through these activities. He was also active in his church, and we appreciate the pastors at Water’s Edge opening their doors on a moment’s notice and supporting Blake’s family and friends."
A prayer vigil was held at the church Sunday night. Abigail Randall said, “It still doesn't feel real. It just feels like a dream, like I'm going to wake up soon - but it's real." The entire rugby team was also inside the church for the vigil.
Kleeman says grief counselors are available at the school for any student and staff member.
The investigation continues into McKune's death. His body was found in a ditch near Rosewood Academy pre-school at 192nd and Harrison around 2:00 Sunday afternoon. Investigators say McKune's parents called law enforcement when he didn't come home Saturday night.
Investigators said there is no indication of foul play. Autopsy results are pending. "Our hearts go out to his family and we will do all we can to support the family through this difficult time, and we also want to connect with any of our students who may be struggling with this information," Principal Dr. Greg Tiemann said in a letter to parents.
"The unexpected death of a young person is a very sad and difficult thing to accept. Please start the conversation with your students and encourage them to visit with our counselors if they would like to talk."
Dr. Tiemann also provided a list of ways that parents can help their kids deal with the tragedy.
- Be available and willing to discuss the events and honestly share your feelings about them.
- Allow your student to express fears and feelings. Let your student question things without being judgmental.
- Maintain your daily routines as it offers students a sense of security.
- Be present and watchful of your student in the days and weeks ahead. Watch for any changes in behavior. If you do notice changes, we encourage you to talk with a school counselor.
- Give assurances of love, support, and safety.
- Be patient. Students may express a variety of emotions within a short period of time.