Jenison schools mourn death of sophomore student, 15

Ottawa County

GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Students of Jenison High School are mourning the loss of one of their own.

Jenison Public Schools Superintendent Tom TenBrink says 15-year-old Hunter Bowen went to sleep but did not wake up Monday morning.

Just a sophomore, Hunter had already made his mark on Jenison High School’s cross-country team.

“He was a young man that never quit. He would attack all the hills. Even if he got sick, he would attack the hills,” TenBrink told News 8.

In addition to his tenacity, Hunter was known for his attitude.

“(He was) very quiet,” said TenBrink. “But when he spoke, everybody listened.”

The superintendent tells News 8 it appears Hunter died from natural causes. Ottawa County sheriff’s detectives also said there were no signs of foul play. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

TenBrink says Hunter’s death was felt across the district since his siblings attend Rosewood Elementary School and Jenison High School.

As soon as the district learned of Hunter’s death, it put its crisis intervention plan into effect, informing his teammates and classmates and ensuring counselors were available to talk.

Cars parked at Jenison High School
A Sept. 23, 2019 photo shows Jenison High School.

But in an age of social media, dealing with a tragedy like this is an even bigger challenge.

“Social media is an incredible challenge, because it’s instantaneous news,” said TenBrink. “One person puts something out on social media, somebody adds to it, and it gets embellished.”

This time, school officials informed students of the tragedy before social media took over.

“We were able to have the opportunity to share with our student body, to share with our cross-country team the news of Hunter’s passing, versus it going viral,” the superintendent said.

Hunter’s death is the latest in a series of tragedies the district has dealt with this year, including the death of 17-year-old Sydney Carfine in a crash on Chicago Drive in July.

Carfine would have been a senior at Jenison High School this year.

TenBrink says the community had proven time and time again its ability to unite during tragedies.

“Please keep the Bowen family in your thoughts and prayers! I am confident that the Jenison community will do whatever it takes to support the Bowen family during this difficult time. Together, we are Jenison,” he concluded in a letter to parents.

A GoFundMe account has been started to help the family cover funeral expenses.

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