Dawson-Boyd mourns after Blackjack senior found dead by law enforcement after fleeing drinking party
DAWSON — The Dawson-Boyd community is mourning the death of a popular high school senior and athlete who was found about 12 hours after he fled an underage drinking party as law enforcement officers arrived.
Michael Chinedu Anyasike, 18, of Dawson, was pronounced dead Sunday after being transported to the Madison Hospital by ambulance, according to Lac qui Parle County Sheriff Rick Halvorson.
Anyasike was found outside of a rural farm site on the 2800 block of 261st Avenue, or about four miles from the party site.
The cause of Anyasike’s death remained under investigation on Monday. Foul play was not suspected.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, Anyasike was among several young persons who fled the underage drinking party around 12:28 a.m. Sunday at a farm site on the 2700 block of 280th Avenue, northeast of Madison.
The victim’s parents, Dr. Michael and Irene Anyasike, of Dawson, had reported him missing just after noon Sunday. The Lac qui Parle County Sheriff’s Office, aided by other law enforcement officers, launched a search in the area.
News of Anyasike’s death had reached many in the community on Sunday, and by that evening a prayer vigil was conducted at the Grace Lutheran Church. The Rev. Kendall Stelter also opened the church sanctuary on Monday so that people in the community could offer prayers.
Dawson-Boyd Superintendent of Schools Brad Madsen described Monday as “a day of mourning and hugging.”
School officials brought teams of grief counselors and clergy to the school. A memorial wall with photos of Anyasike was set up in the high school. The Blackjack football running back was remembered for his ever-present smile and uplifting personality, according to the superintendent.
Madsen said there were lots of tears shed by students grieving his loss, but there were laughs too. Many remembered the humorous moments he was known for, he explained.
The school has offered to host a memorial service for Anyasike. A date and time had not been determined as of Monday.
Anyasike has two younger brothers and a sister attending the Dawson-Boyd Schools.
Dr. Anyasike had previously practiced medicine in Dawson, but currently practices in Marshall. The family continues to live in Dawson in large part because the family has appreciated the school, according to Terry Overlander of Dawson.
Overlander was among those who met with the victim’s family to offer support.
Terry and Becky Overlander had lost their daughter, Mackenzie Jo, 18, in an accident 10 years ago. She had gotten into a vehicle with an intoxicated driver.
“I don’t think there is a more loving and caring community than I think Dawson and Boyd are,’’ said Overlander.
He is a Lac qui Parle County commissioner who led the effort for Lac qui Parle County to adopt a social host ordinance following the Dec. 3, 2006, death of Megan Bothun, 16, of Montevideo, after she had allegedly been at a party.
This weekend’s party remains under investigation. No arrests have been made at this time, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office reported that there were about 20 vehicles parked at the farm site when deputies arrived early Sunday morning. An unspecified number of youths were issued citations for underage consumption.