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The Current

One year later, Bruins remember Joe & Jude

Bruins gather at the football field to honor the memory of Jude (Alex) Douden and Joe Rantz. Photo by Kalei Owen

One year after the tragic accident that took the lives of two amazing young men, Bruins are still reflecting on the loss of Joe Rantz and Jude (Alex) Douden, but are able to smile at the memories that were left behind.

According to The Union, on the rainy afternoon of December 15, 2016, the seniors were in a vehicle traveling south on Highway 49 when they lost control of the car and crossed the center line. They collided with a Ford F-350 around 1:15 p.m. near Dry Creek Road, instantly killing both young men.

Bear River’s Principal Dr. Amy Besler spoke for the Bear River community in retrospect of the past year.

“The loss of Joe and Jude was one of our darkest moments at Bear River, and the past year has been challenging for so many students and staff members,” Dr. Besler said.

Everyone who knew Rantz and Douden, and even those who didn’t, have come together this year to support each other through this dark time. On Friday, December 15, Bruins gathered at the football field to honor the memory of their friends with a balloon release and a moment of silence.

“Today at lunch, students, staff members, parents, and alumni gathered at the football stadium to write notes for the boys, sign a poster for the families, engage in a moment of silence, and participate in a memorial balloon release,” Dr. Besler explained.

“I think it brought the school together again, not in the best way but it’s something,” Senior Jake Rogers said. “It’s cool how just two people can affect a whole community.”

Dr. Besler also commented on the sense of connection she feels around school.

“I feel a tremendous sense of love and connection on our campus and am so glad that Bear River is a place where students feel like they’re a part of a larger family and will receive the support they need, no matter what is happening,” she said.

At the memorial ceremony, Bruins reflected on memories of their classmates and agreed that Rantz and Douden continue to affect Bear River just as they did in life.  

“Last year was pretty hard; it happened right before baseball season and it’s definitely something that affected the whole team,” fellow Senior Baseball player Johnny Calleri said. “Even though he wouldn’t have been on the team this year regardless, he is still there with us. … There’s something bigger to play for than just a baseball game.”

Fellow Starlite member, Senior Matt Snyder, talked about the one of the small things he remembers about Douden.

“One of my favorite memories with him is one time I went into the band room at lunch, and I saw him and went up to him and started singing, ‘Hey Jude,’ and he looked at me and started laughing,” Snyder said. “That was one of the only times I got to share a laugh with him.”

— Desi Kreiter and Ciana DeMink contributed to this report.

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One year later, Bruins remember Joe & Jude