ALLENDALE, MI – A memorial is being planned to celebrate the life of Brendan Santo, the Grand Valley State University student who disappeared during a visit to Michigan State University in late October and whose body was found in the river Red Cedar several months later.
The memorial will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 10 at the Cook Carillon Tower on the campus of GVSU, the university announcement this week.
The event, hosted by Santo’s cousin, will be held “to celebrate the life” of the 18-year-old, a GVSU spokesperson told MLive/The Grand Rapids Press.
Attendees will have the opportunity to say a few words or share a memory of Santo during the event, officials said. President Philomena Mantella and other GVSU administrators will be present.
Santo, who was a freshman at GVSU this fall, was described in his obituary as “kind, polite, considerate of others, fun and humble”. The Rochester Hills native graduated last spring from Rochester Adams High School. He was known for playing lacrosse, cooking with friends and his love of dogs, according to the obituary.
Santo was last seen leaving Yakeley Hall on the MSU campus shortly before midnight on October 29. Months later, his body was found after a private detective detected something on his camera that he suspected was Santo’s body.
Private investigator Ryan Robison notified police of his findings shortly after midnight on January 21, and police gathered scuba resources to explore the exact area Robison identified. The body was recovered.
MSU Police Inspector Chris Rozman confirmed Jan. 22 that the medical examiner had positively identified the body as Santo based on dental records. Investigators did not suspect foul play or self-harm as reasons for Santo’s disappearance, MSU police said.
A few days after the recovery of Santo’s body, his family and friends circulate a petition highlighting new safety measures that could be implemented around parts of the river that run through MSU’s campus. Measures included warning signs near steep drop-offs in the river, campus fencing and barriers near openings to the river, and better lighting.
the petition had over 20,000 signatures as of February 10.
In late January, MSU installed temporary fencing along parts of the Red Cedar River in response to Santo’s death and began working on more permanent solutions to improve campus safety, MSU officials said. .
GVSU students can contact the University Counseling Center at 616-331-3266, or stop by the Counseling Desk in Room 206 of the Student Services Center on the Allendale campus to schedule an appointment.
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