The sudden death over the weekend of a Burnsville teenager on a North Dakota university campus has left the south metro community reeling and struggling to understand what happened.
Devin Delaney, a 17-year-old student-athlete at Burnsville High School, was pronounced dead in a North Dakota State University dorm room on Sunday. Delaney was on the Fargo campus visiting friends when emergency personnel were dispatched to Sevrinson Hall just after noon on a call of boy being unresponsive. Lifesaving efforts were unsuccessful, a statement from the university’s Media Relations office said.
The University’s statement did not say how Delaney died, but that “there were no apparent signs of foul play.”
“When I got the call, I couldn’t believe it,” wrote Allison Millea, one of Delaney’s teachers, in a statement. “There was no way this happy face could be gone.”
Millea joined other grieving students and teachers at the school football field after hearing the news, which she described as an unforgettable scene. “The pain on so many young faces was horrific, but the way they all came together to hug, cry, laugh, sob, and remember was amazing. In Burnsville, we are so supportive of one another … This is the first student death of someone I had in class and I wouldn’t be able to get through it if it weren’t for this community of love.”
Brody Childs, one of Delaney’s best friends, said he had known Delaney since childhood and two played on several hockey and lacrosse teams together. Delaney was a senior at Burnsville High and was a standout on the school’s lacrosse team. He also played junior gold hockey.
“He was one of the most natural athletes I have ever met,” Childs said. “He loved them both.”
Fargo Police also responded to the call, which was listed as a medical issue at NDSU, at 12:04 p.m., according to dispatch records listed on the department’s website. Efforts to revive the teen failed, the university statement said.
“There was no ongoing threat to the campus community,” the statement continued.
Delaney had been visiting friends who lived on the seventh floor of Sevrinson Hall and was staying with them for the weekend, the Fargo Forum reported.
Delaney was well liked and “a great kid who made everybody happy,” Childs said. “He brought the mood up in the room. He made us love each other.”
Besides excelling on the athletic field, Delaney also took advanced placement courses at Burnsville, Childs said. The school provided grieving time and made counselors available Monday, said Principal Dave Helke in a statement, calling it a “very difficult and emotional day” for students and teachers. The school postponed a homecoming assembly Monday, but will hold it Tuesday for students who feel up to attending, said Helke. “I believe an all-school assembly will provide us an opportunity to rally together as a community, support each other and celebrate how strong we are.”
Delaney’s family asked the media for privacy to grieve. Their attorney, Paul O. Taylor, released a statement Monday on their behalf, thanking friends and the public for the strong show of support.
“Yesterday the Tom and Kjirstin Delaney family lost their son and brother Devin,” says the statement. “He was a bright young man with a very promising life ahead of him. He was loved by his classmates and was passionate about the games of hockey and lacrosse. He was known for making others smile and had 100s of friends.”
Taylor said the family was “devastated” by the loss.
A friend of the family set up a GoFundMe campaign to help Delaney’s family with expenses.
“Devin tragically lost his life on Sunday. He was a guy who was incredibly loved and made an impact on countless lives,” the campaign page said. “Wherever Devin went, he brought an abundance of joy with.”
The NDSU police department continues to investigate.