The Mount Baker High School logo on the football field in Deming. PHOTO: Doug Lange
Mount Baker Football Player Found Dead
January 11, 2019
Mount Baker High School, the football team and the Deming community
is suffering through a tragedy. The Mountaineers have lost a football player to a possible suicide.
Mount Baker Athletic Director and football coach Ron Lepper confirmed the death of senior Noah Rathjen in a phone interview. He and other teachers delivered the following message to students Friday morning:
"We received information last night that one our students, Noah Rathjen, was found dead at his home yesterday afternoon and there is no foul play suspected. We are aware there is speculation of Noah's death was a result of suicide. At this time we do not have confirmation. As we learn more we will keep you updated."
Friday was a obviously a very tough day for the tight-knight Mount Baker community.
"There's a lot more questions than answers and our community knows a lot of people, so there's a big ripple. It affects a lot of people," said Lepper.
Rathjen started at linebacker as a sophomore and at right tackle as a junior. As a senior he played at both positions in the first game of the season versus Lynden, but did not play again after suffering a knee injury.
"Kind of an emotional leader for us, the kind of a kid that other kids gravitated to, said Lepper of the two-year starter. "Had a little bit of charisma to him."
According to a letter posted on the Mount Baker School District website, Rathjen was found deceased at his home on Thursday.
The letter, written by high school principal Matt Durand and junior high principal Troy Wright that went out to parents and guardians, also states the following:
This is a tragic event that has shocked and saddened all of us in our school community. We have shared this information with staff and students. Counselors, teachers, and other resources have been made available so that students and staff can grieve safely through this process.
Please contact the school office if you feel your child is in need of additional assistance. Note that children who are already vulnerable may be at greater risk due to exposure to the death of a peer. All kids process situations like this in different ways and you know your child best; attached are a number of resources to help you support your child.
We will provide students with information regarding a memorial service as it becomes available. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us or the school counselors. We can be reached by calling 360-383-2015.
The school has offered counseling services to students and staff as those affected come together to go through the grieving process.
"Our community, our teachers have been great, they have really reached out," said Lepper. "A lot of the coaches in our league have reached out to me personally. That's been awesome...that makes you just really appreciate where you are at."
- Doug Lange