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Henning students host unique memorial for Jacob Quam on one-year anniversary of crash

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HENNING, Minn. — Students at the high school here came together to remember and celebrate a much loved friend and classmate who died one year ago, on April 13, 2017.

Jacob Quam, 16, was a transplant to lakes country from the metro Twin Cities, but the impact and contributions he made in his life echo in the halls of the school and community.

Everyone knew it would be a tough day.

The high school students filed in to mark the one-year anniversary of a day that rocked the community: the day they lost Jacob Quam.

His mother and family came to see a crowd of kids still overflowing with grief, yet admiration, for her son.

"He always showed that he was trying and that we should all be going as hard as he was," says friend, Blake Wallevand.

They all knew him as "City Boy," but it seemed like he'd been there the whole time

"He was so social," says Wallevand.

Rural Otter Tail County would become a hunting and sports mecca for Jacob, a football player, hunter, and leader on the basketball team — number 33.

"As a coach and a teacher, you're not supposed to have a favorites, but for some reason, he stuck out," says Henning teacher and coach, Randy Misegades.

When Jacob died on a foggy stretch of road between Vining and Henning, he was on his way to an early workout at school.

His death devastated many.

For the past year, the students responded.

His jersey was brought out for every captain's handshake at center court.

His friends gathered at the lake for his birthday.

At the first game of the season, the team sacrificed the opening jump ball.

That was Jacob's role.

All done so that the classmates and community could heal.

"He was just important to a lot of people here and we don't want to forget. I don't think we ever will, and in fact I know we won't,"says Misegades.

For this boy who loved to hunt, they chose an appropriate way to mark the one-year anniversary of this fateful day: a release of pheasants.

Jacob's mom, Angela Eckhoff Quam, is moved that her son had such an impact on so many.

"Amazing. I can't even put it into words," she says. "They're hurting as much as I am, and he was just their friend."

Number 33 for the Henning Hornets has been retired, but what continue are the lessons learned these last 12 months.

"I hope a lot of people learn to tell people you care about them, give them a hug, say 'I love you,' because you don't know if you will get that chance again," says Misegades.

The trial for the driver charged with manslaughter in connection with that crash has been pushed to July in Otter Tail County.

Kevin Wallevand

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia and the Middle East. He is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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