By Justin Schmidt, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
By Stephen Mayer, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
LIBERTY, MO (KCTV) -
Friends and family are remembering a Liberty high school student who died after a New Year's Eve party. Police are urging parents to use the death to talk to their children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Friends and family of Quentin Underhill started the healing process Friday night at a visitation for the 17-year-old who died New Year's Eve. They filed in by the bus load to say goodbye.
"He was always a really nice guy, generous, fun to be around," said Satchel Smith, a Liberty High School junior.
Liberty police said they found Underhill, a twin and the son of a firefighter, unresponsive the morning of Dec. 30, after a night of partying. Paramedics took him to a hospital, but he died the next day.
The news came as a shock to those who knew and loved the avid wrestler. Underhill was an active teen who played football, baseball, basketball and soccer. He was also a lifeguard and was planning trips to Northwest Missouri State University and the University of Missouri as he tried to figure out where he wanted to go to college.
"It was pretty shocking. Nobody thought someone like him would have that happen to him," senior Matt Willett said. "He was sociable, a nice guy, everybody's friends with him."
Johanna Morgan is a family friend and was among the hundreds who came to pay their respects. She said the scene inside the visitation hall was highly emotional.
"(There were lots of ) hugs and tears and memories," she said.
Liberty Public Schools sent out a written statement regarding the student's death:
"The Liberty Public Schools community is deeply saddened by the recent passing of Liberty High School Junior, Quentin Underhill.
"Quentin will be greatly missed by his classmates, teachers, and his many friends. He was a valued member of the Liberty High School Wrestling Team.
"Grief counseling services have been made available to support students and staff throughout the week.
"The Liberty School District and the high school community extend heartfelt sympathies to Quentin's family during this very difficult time. Please keep Quentin's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers during this most difficult time."
Police are calling Underhill's death accidental, but drug and alcohol related.
"There's a lot of gossip and false ways that he's died, it's just a sad story," Smith said.
Police said when they found him, Underhill's lungs had filled with fluid. Neither the Liberty city prosecutor nor the Clay County prosecutor is filing criminal charges.
But police and Underhill's father said his death is why parents should talk to their kids about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.
"If you don't know when to stop, it's hard not to," Willett said.
Before he died, Underhill decided to be an organ donor, according to his obituary – that selfless act will save five lives.
Despite all the pain, Morgan hopes other will learn from the 17-year-old's death.
"It's a tragedy, but I do hope and pray that whatever the issue was, other kids can take it and learn from it. Please do," she said.
Underhill's family is asking people to make donations to Wayside Waifs, a not-for-profit humane society and animal welfare organization, in his honor.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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