By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS— About 300 friends, family and strangers assembled at Star International Academy football field to remember 15-year-old classmate and football player Mohammed Wutwut during a candlelight vigil July 10.
The crowd gathered at the school, 24425 Hass, after the Dearborn teen unexpectedly died when he drown in Cass Lake in Waterford July 8. According to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office he was “having difficulty while swimming 1,000 yards from the shore.”
A 911 was made about 6:15 p.m., and once on the scene police learned from friends that Wutwut was seen having trouble swimming before disappearing into the water.
The Sheriff Office dive team were sent into the lake for a search assisted by the Waterford Police and Fire departments, Keego Harbor police and Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Just before 1 a.m. Wutwut’s body was found 300 feet from shore in 9 feet of water through the help of sonar devices.
Wutwut’s funeral services were held July 10 at the Karbalaa Islamic Educational Center in Dearborn followed by the burial at Islamic Memorial Gardens in Westland.
Grief counselors were available at the school on July 10 for students, friends and families who needed to speak with someone about the incident.
At the candlelight vigil, friends and families sat at one of the goal posts with photos of Wutwut, his jersey, flowers and cards as verses from the Quran were played out loud.
Wutwut’s mother and eight siblings grieved as Star International Academy Supt. Nawal Hamadeh and football coach Nicholas Margo spoke about the 15-year-old.
“He was very special,” Hamadeh said. “He was a leader, a role model, we are all very proud and found of him. There is no better student we wish for better than him.
“All his friends being here together is a testimony to what kind of person he was. As soon as I walked into the hallways, Mohammed stood out.”
Hamadeh announced that all football games in the upcoming 2017 season will be dedicated to Wutwut, and a scholarship will be dedicated in his name.
“It hurts, but this season our heart doesn’t grow smaller because he’s not with us, he’s not there,” Margo said fighting back tears. “I hope all of you will come out and support us this year because everything we do will be for him and for the family.”
Wutwut’s sister Jenan Wutwut spoke the longest about her brother during the vigil, repeating that he never gave up and always worked on bettering himself.
“My brother was a beautiful person,” she said. “It’s amazing how a 15-year-old can touch this many people. If he was here he’d be laughing saying, ‘Thank you.’
“What keeps me going is that not only is my little brother my angel, but that what’s written is what’s written and there’s nothing I could have done to change that on the day.”
To end the vigil, the entire crowd recited the first chapter of the Quran, titled Al-Fatiha which is an Arabic prayer, to help Mohammed Wutwut during his first night in the grave.
A GoFundMe page was started July 9 by the Dearborn Heights Islamic House of Wisdom for burial and funeral expenses with a goal of $10,000. Three days later it surpassed the goal set with $14,800 donated by 214 people.
To donate go to www.gofundme.com/In-Memory-of-Mohammed-Wutwut.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])