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Edgeley grieves loss of boy to ATV crash

Jacob Long

Seventh-graders at Edgeley (N.D.) Public Schools are grieving the loss of a classmate who died in an ATV rollover Monday, four years after the student's cousin died in a similar crash.

Jacob Long, a 13-year-old who loved the outdoors and aspired to take over his father's farm, died from injuries he suffered in a crash that occurred as he was checking on cows.

Four years earlier, Long's cousin, classmate and best friend Tristan Long, 8, died in a similar ATV crash when the boys were in third grade.

For the 14 students who remain in the class, this recent death has been particularly difficult because it brings up memories of the 2005 tragedy, said Lucinda Malm, the school's counselor.

"It takes everybody back all over again to that first one," Malm said.

Jacob, who was part of a set of triplets, has a brother, Adam, and sister, Johanna, also in the class. Tristan's sister, Mikaela, is in eighth grade.

Final exams for the seventh-graders have been suspended and the students have been making memory books and writing poems for their friend.

The classmates also have signed a cowboy hat and the guitar Jacob played. They plan to give those as keepsakes for the family.

"He was cowboy to the core," Malm said of Jacob.

Jacob is the son of Richard and Susan Long and the nephew of Mike and Sue Long, who farm together near Berlin, N.D.

Tristan's crash occurred in January 2005 after he was riding an ATV and apparently hit some fresh snow, causing the four-wheeler to flip. He died four days later at MeritCare Hospital in Fargo.

Jacob was checking on cows about 6 p.m. Monday when his ATV rolled over. He died that night at MeritCare. Neither boy wore a helmet.

Friday is the last day of school, but all students will be excused to attend Jacob's funeral, said Superintendent Rick Diegel. In a small school, not just the seventh-graders are affected; everyone is, Diegel said.

"It's a hard loss for everyone," Diegel said. "We'll get through it together and with a lot of prayer and a lot of comforting each other."

A Facebook group set up in memory of Jacob and his cousin had more than 200 members by Wednesday evening.

Diegel said students are shocked by this death, but he's trying to encourage them to think about how fortunate they were to have known Jacob.

"We feel very privileged and honored that we had Jake in our presence for 13 years and were able to enjoy the gifts that Jake brought everyone," Diegel said.