A student’s death always mourned

CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON/The Daily Sentinel—Colorado Mesa University students and administrators release balloons Saturday from the upstairs patio of the Student Center in remembrance of students who have died. The annual ceremony was begun in remembrance of two students who died in 2007 in an accident that was caused by a drunken driver.

The first year after Jake Brock and Jennifer Kois were killed in a drunken-driving accident, about 400 friends and loved ones paid their respects at a remembrance ceremony at Mesa State College. On Saturday, during the fourth-annual event at what is now Colorado Mesa University, the crowds were much smaller. But the sentiment endured.

“Every year you have different circumstances,” Associated Student Government President Telbe Storbeck said. “There’s suicides, accidents that happen. The list continues to grow. It’s still good to reflect on the memories of those people.”

About a dozen students gathered to remember any number of Mavericks who have died over the years. A memorial with pinwheels is placed in the quad outside the University Center as a lasting memorial to college students whose lives were cut short.

“We think of those students who came here but didn’t get to finish their careers here,” said John Marshall, vice president for student services. “This is one of those moments that we stop every year and have to face this. It is certainly a better place because of all those students.”

Brock and Kois were dating when they attended Mesa State College. They were killed in March 2007 when a drunken driver slammed into the back of the vehicle they were in on Interstate 70 near Clifton.

Since that time, a tree has been planted in their memory on the school’s campus.

The Spring Snow Crabapple tree explodes into an abundance of white blooms but bears no fruit. The tree is symbolic of the students’ shortened lives, Storbeck said. After the short ceremony, students carried an array of maroon and white balloons to the deck of the University Center. A brisk wind swiftly carried the balloons north toward gathering storm clouds. Students watched in silence as light glimmered off the balloons before they seemed to disappear into the clouds.


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