It was a somber day at Byron High School on Friday, March 21, district superintendent Jeff Elstad said.
The mood stemmed from the news that a body discovered by law enforcement the morning before was that of missing Byron teen Noah Graddy, who had been last seen in late January.
Graddy's body was found just off the railroad tracks somewhere between Byron and Kasson in Dodge County. He was 15.
"It certainly is a tragedy," Elstad said. "The mood here has been somber. It's a sad day for our students and staff."
Elstad said a comfort room was set up for students Friday so they could make cards for the family, talk with school counselors or just sit quietly.
The death is the second one for Byron High School in as many school years.
On the first day of school in 2012, senior Deianerah "Deej" Logan died from injuries sustained in a two-vehicle accident off County Road 5 in Byron. Later evidence showed the teen had been texting.
"The toughest part of this, as an administrator, as a father and as a human being, is it's so sad," Elstad said.
"When a young person is gone, you immediately go to what could have been."
Graddy's death remains under investigation pending receipt of the final autopsy report.
By Tara Lindquist
The body of Noah Graddy was found on Thursday, March 20th while Olmsted County Sheriff's Department, Dodge County Sheriff's Department, Kasson Police Department and the BCA were conducting a search along the railroad tracks located west of 260th Street in Kasson. Dodge County Sheriff Jim Jensen confirmed the body found was Noah on Friday afternoon.
Graddy was reported missing on Jan. 19th and was last seen leaving a friend's home in Kasson on Jan. 22nd.
According to a press release from Dodge County Sheriff Jim Jensen, a medical examiner from Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner's Office responded to the scene and conducted an investigation. An autopsy was conducted Friday morning at the Medical Examiner's Office. The autopsy revealed that there was no trauma to the body. Jensen said they are not treating Graddy's death as a homicide. The investigation remains ongoing until the sheriff's department receives the final autopsy results.
Friday afternoon the Graddy family released the following statement:
"The Graddy family would like to send out our heartfelt thanks to everyone that has reached out and supported us during this very difficult time and also for the love and support that we continue to receive.
As we mourn the loss of Noah, we would like to respectfully ask local media outlets to allow us to grieve privately and ask that you direct all media inquires and questions to local law enforcement that handled the investigation.
At this time we will not be releasing any further statements or be speaking out publicly.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in respecting our privacy during this very difficult time."
Family and friends had raised $1,000 to be used as a reward for anyone who found Noah. That money has now been given to the family to go toward funeral expenses. The family also is accepting donations to help with the cost of funeral arrangements and services.
Anyone wanting to donate can send or drop off a check at any First Alliance Credit Union; it should be made out to Savannah VanDenBerg with Noah's benefit in the memo line.