‘It was just this state of disbelief’

Jenna Staul

Vigil at Kent Roosevelt remembers 16-year- old.

Two Theodore Roosevelt High School students mourn the death of junior Jacob Adamek at last night’s memorial service on the school grounds. Adamek committed suicide Wednesday morning. Kristina Deckert | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Jacob Adamek loved music – and basketball and poetry.

He had a quiet passion about him, friends said. Anything he did, he did with intensity.

“He was very, very intelligent. He knew everything about everything,” said Tracie Espenschied, a sophomore at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent.

Wednesday morning Jacob stepped onto the railroad tracks just past Powdermill Road in Kent. It was suicide – he laid down on the tracks and was struck by a CSX train. He was 16.

The train’s engineer called police at 9:25 a.m. Firefighters, police and the coroner responded moments later.

Espenschied heard the news about Jacob on Wednesday, but it wasn’t until yesterday morning that it became real. Principal Roger Sidoti made an announcement to the student body.

“There was this tone in his voice,” Espenschied said. “It was gloomy (in school). No one really talked.”

Last night Jacob’s peers, teachers and community members gathered in front of Roosevelt High School, clutching tiny white candles. A rock was spray painted with the words “Jacob. 4-22-09 … Always Remember,” illuminated by flickering candles at its base. Hundreds sang a faint chorus of “Amazing Grace” and “Blowin’ in the Wind,” remembering the high school junior.

“I’ve been a teacher for 10 years and never experienced anything like this, and I know Roosevelt hasn’t experienced anything like this in a while,” said Craig Foreman, who taught Jacob in a history class.

Jacob had dropped Foreman’s class. Yesterday, he looked up an e-mail his former student sent to him. Jacob said he dropped the class because he couldn’t give it his all – he never did anything he couldn’t wholly devote himself to.

“Having kids of my own, I just can’t even fathom this,” Foreman said.

Some students found out yesterday morning, casting a solemn mood in the high school’s hallways. Others found out earlier – through a text message, a phone call, through a sister, at a softball game.

“I was going to get my hair cut,” sophomore Kevin Bjerre said. “My hairdresser was friends with his family. It was just this state of disbelief.”

Peers described him as reserved but creative.

“He was a beautiful writer. He wrote beautiful music and poetry. He would exclude himself sometimes,” sophomore Keegan Larwin said.

Senior Bryce Zimmer stood on the outskirts of the semicircle of mourners gathered around the painted rock. As Foreman took to the microphone to speak about Jacob, Zimmer looked up from the candle glowing in the palm of his hand.

“I didn’t expect him to do anything like this – not at all.”

Contact public affairs reporter Jenna Staul at [email protected].