Kalkaska Co. Community Mourns Loss of Kalkaska High School Senior

“It is a tough waiting game for the community.”

The Kalkaska County Sheriff’s Office and the community are waiting for answers after a senior at Kalkaska High School died suddenly.

Sheriff Pat Whiteford says 17-year-old Damen Huffman was found dead at his home Tuesday morning.

Right now the sheriff’s office has no indications on how he died.

Damen’s girlfriend found him in his bedroom at his parents’ house.

The sheriff’s office says there was nothing found in the room or any visible signs pointing to a cause of death.

They are waiting for results from an autopsy.

Sheriff Whiteford says he hopes to have answers as students head back to school on Tuesday.

“It’s hard for family and community not to know and very unfortunate when a young man like that passes away,” says Kalkaska County Sheriff Pat Whiteford. “Just looking for reasons why this happened.”

Counselors will be at the high school Tuesday to help students and staff.

The passing of Damen Huffman leaves a hole in many people’s hearts.

Kalkaska High School opened their doors Wednesday night so family, friends and students could mourn together.

9&10’s Caroline Powers and photojournalist Jeremy Erickson have more details on how Damen’s friends are remembering him.

“He always had a smile… yeah goofy… he was really long and lengthy. Goofy motions.”

A goofy guy, who always had a smile on his face.

That’s how Brad Berger and Zach Ingersoll remember Damen Huffman from the moment they met him in sixth grade.

“First day he walked, nobody knew who he was. He had that New Orleans Saints jersey on,” says Zach Ingersoll.

“Yeah I remember that,” says Brad Berger. Marques Colston.”

“He loved that #12. He loved New Orleans,” says Ingersoll and Berger.

Luke Sexton says he would hang out with Damen every day.

“We both loved to hunt and fish. We were always outside and he and I just got along good,” Luke Sexton says.

The two were more than just best friends.

“He lived here pretty much. Like my mom made dinners big enough for all of us because he always was over,” Sexton says. “He was more of a brother to me just because we connected so well.”

From hunting, to fishing, and playing disc golf, the boys say Damen loved being outdoors.

“He was actually with me when I shot my first buck,” Sexton says. “It was on Halloween night last year. I was so nervous and he was with me. It was a huge deer and he helped me calm down a little bit. Told me take my time and I made a good shot. It’ll remind me of him a lot. Just because he did do that a lot with me, and ice fish and just everything.”

When school starts back up again on Tuesday, students are planning on wearing red in honor of Damen’s favorite color.

“He wore red all the time. Red was Damen’s favorite color,” says Jon Hoggard. “His car was red, his shoes were red, and most of his wardrobe was red. Everything was red.”

And while their time with Damen has been cut short, all four boys say they’ll get through this together.

“I know I just got to be here for them too because they’re going through the same thing,” Berger says.

“If there was anybody that was getting the most out of life it was that kid,” says Hoggard. “He had good times. We all did.”

Damen Huffman’s visitation will take place at the Kalkaska Funeral Home on Monday, January 2 from 2-4 and 6-8p.m.

His funeral is on Tuesday, January 3 at the Kalkaska Funeral Home at 11a.m.

A You Caring page has also been set up to help the family. You can donate here.