Hemlock superintendent speaks on student’s death

A young life was cut short just days before graduating.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 5:23 PM EDT
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HEMLOCK, Mich. (WNEM) - A young life was cut short just days before graduating.

Dax Burk, a senior at Hemlock High School, was killed in a single-car crash early Saturday morning in Bay County that sent three other teens to a hospital.

Related: One teen killed, 3 others seriously injured in weekend crash

School administrators are working to help students and staff process this tragedy.

“Complete sadness. It’s just such a tragedy to lose a young man at this age, and this close to graduation,” said Hemlock Public Schools Superintendent Don Killingbeck.

According to Michigan State Police, Burk was a passenger in the 2008 GMC Sierra traveling south on 7 Mile Road in Bay County when it left the street and crashed into a water-filled ditch and driveway embankment just before 3 a.m. Saturday, May 20.

The 18-year-old driver, along with two other passengers, a 15-year-old and 16-year-old, were taken to the hospital, but Burk, the fourth person in the vehicle, died from his injuries.

“He’s been with us at Hemlock Public School District since he was an elementary student all the way through,” Killingbeck said. “He was a jokester, just a fun young man. He was hands-on. He was a student at Saginaw Career Complex studying HVAC. He had a bright future ahead of him working in the trades.”

As of Monday evening, the status of the three other teens involved in the crash is unknown. Two of them are students in the St. Charles Community School District.

In Hemlock, Killingbeck said Burk would’ve graduated on Thursday, May 25.

He said a grief center has been set up for students and staff who need it. Killingbeck also said tributes to Burk are being planned.

“Some of our community members are working on a memorial for tomorrow night. Students are putting on a baccalaureate. And so, it will be part of that tomorrow night. As far as graduation, we haven’t finalized anything as of yet,” Killingbeck said,

Meanwhile, instead of celebrating graduation, those who knew and loved Burk are planning to say their final goodbyes.

“We’d love to let the family know that they are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” Killingbeck said.

Police believe alcohol and speed were factors in the crash, which remains under investigation.

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