Developing story: Two GV student deaths in October

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Audrey Whitaker and Hanna Halstead

On Thursday, Oct 14, emergency responders were dispatched to Pere Marquette beach in Muskegon following reports that a swimmer was struggling in the rip currents of Lake Michigan.

Several hours later, the U.S. Coast Guard found the body of Taleah Lowe, an 18-year-old Grand Valley State University student.

GVSU students were notified via email on Oct. 15. On Oct. 19, the Grand Valley Police Department shared two posts on social media with information about the Muskegon Police Department report.

GVPD said that Muskegon Police Department’s initial statement named drowning as the cause of death and that there was no foul play suspected.

A GoFundMe created by Isaiah Lane, Lowe’s cousin, on Oct. 18 is raising money for legal fees and a private investigator. According to Lane in the GoFundMe, the family is suspicious of two other GVSU students whom Lowe was with on the night of her death. 

Students took to social media to express their outrage. On Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, members of the GVSU community shared the opinion that Lowe’s death wasn’t an accident in posts and comments on GVSU, GVPD and President Mantella’s official accounts. Many said that the department should conduct a more thorough investigation.

Since the death occurred in Muskegon, GVPD does not have jurisdiction over the case, which is being handled by the Muskegon police department, Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Brandon DeHaan said.

“In this particular case, the death investigation occurred over 35 miles away from the Allendale campus,” DeHaan said. “Had the death occurred on the Grand Valley campus, Grand Valley police would have conducted the investigation.”

DeHaan said that GVPD has connected with the Muskegon Police Department in order to connect their investigator with members of Brown’s family and to inform the GVSU community.

On Oct. 22, GVSU students were notified via email that another student, Katelyn Nylund, had died in a vehicle crash on Oct. 21. 

The GVSU Counseling Center has stated that they are available to anyone struggling with the two deaths of GVSU students this week.

The Lanthorn will be covering both these cases as more information unfolds.