Community mourns 9-year-old who died after falling in lake

Students and staff in the Sparta Area School District are mourning a fourth-grade student, who died over the weekend. Jaden Stalsberg, 9, died last night after falling through the ice on an area lake.

The Sparta Police Department received a report of children who had fallen through the ice on Perch Lake on Sunday afternoon. First responders were able to crawl out onto the ice to rescue a 12-year-old boy.

“And that’s when they found out that his brother had gone in, too,” said Chief David Kuderer, of the Sparta Police Department.

Rescuers used cameras to locate Jaden Stalsberg, but it took almost an hour and 45 minutes for divers to reach him. He was then transported to an area hospital before being flown by GundersenAlR to Rochester with life-threatening injuries.

While authorities were still at the scene, the community gathered to show their support.

“They stayed back. They allowed the emergency personnel to do their job and do it efficiently,” Kuderer said.

The school district’s superintendent was among the crowd.

“The loss of a student is the hardest thing that we have to work through as a school district, as a community, and for the family. Thoughts and prayers go out to them,” said Dr. Amy Van Deuren, superintendent for the Sparta Area School District.

As part of its crisis planning, the district will be providing support as people process what happened.

“We do have mechanisms in place to ensure that counselors and psychs, school psychologists, are available to students and staff,” Van Deuren said.

The school district has other protocol to follow, as well.

“That we’re checking in, that we’re messaging consistently to our students that we’re helping them through it, that we’re releasing appropriate information and respecting the wishes of the family,” Van Deuren said.

She said the school is letting people process the death in their own way. Counseling will continue to be provided for as long as it is needed.

The superintendent said in a statement that children make be experiencing a variety of feeling surrounding Jaden’s death. Kids might have unusual or oddly timed reactions as they process what happened. They might also have feelings of hopelessness or fear for their own safety.

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