HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Friends gathered Thursday night to remember a 17-year-old who died after jumping into Lake Michigan.
Jose Moreno jumped off the pier at Holland State Park Wednesday evening. He became distressed and then went under the water. He was found about two hours later and rushed to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
He would have graduated from West Ottawa High School on June 1.
“I knew he would have been something in life,” fellow West Ottawa senior Roy Lopez told 24 Hour News 8.
Classmates at West Ottawa looked to be in shock Thursday.
“Walking in school, you can just feel the tension, feel everyone down. But I know how everyone feels dealing with death. Everyone is pretty affected by it,” Lopez said.
“We’re struggling right now,” Principal Todd Tulgetske said. “Our student body is struggling. Teachers are struggling.”
He described Moreno, a varsity soccer player, as a great role model who had raised his GPA a full point his senior year. He also said Moreno was part of a tight-knit family.
School Thursday started with a message about Moreno’s death.
“We’ve encouraged our kids to not jump off the pier at Holland State Park,” Tulgetske said. “I think that’s important for parents to also carry that message on to their children. We talked to our whole student body this morning about that and the dangers of that.”
Crisis counselors were on hand at the school.
Thursday evening, Moreno’s family and friends gathered at the pier at Holland State Park to release balloons and drop white roses in the lake to remember him.
People also gathered at St. Francis de Sales in Holland Thursday to try to deal with his sudden death.
His soccer team tells 24 Hour News 8 they don’t know what exactly happened Wednesday, but Morano and his girlfriend decided to walk to the beach after school. Then at some point, the couple decided to jump off the pier.
His girlfriend wrote on Facebook Thursday, “I will never forget that moment where we held hands to jump in, who would’ve thought that last was the last time I got to see you…”
Some of his teammates believe it was probably a cold water challenge, but authorities say there is no evidence to prove that is what happened.
Cold water challenges have recently become popular online. It is when people jump into cold water and then challenge others to do the same. Some challenges are associated with charities. The water temperature was around 45 degrees when Moreno and his girlfriend jumped off the pier Wednesday.
Watch below via YouTube: Dr. Katie Krieger with Spectrum Health offers tips when it comes to going into cold water.