DES MOINES, Iowa — It is a phone call Hoover High School Principal Sherry Poole fears. “It’s a gut punch that your gonna have to deliver that news to people that loved that student like one of their own,” said Poole.
A conversation in Poole’s office that sunk the heart of coach Courtney Henderson. “The kid used to get up at five o’clock in the morning to go to the Grubb YMCA to work out. That’s the type of discipline he had,” explained Henderson.
The death of Hoover High School student Emmanuel Nyariel blindsided his varsity basketball teammates like Elijah Vos on Monday. “Obviously it caught everyone off guard but it hit me like a train. It was really hard. It still is,” said Vos who often gave Emmanuel rides to practice.
The lives of Emmanuel Nyariel, his brother Majok, and Zachariah Warsame ended Monday in Clive near Walnut Creek and the Cool Basil parking lot. Hamid Lula and Mohamed Elzubier remain in critical condition. Clive police say the five stole a vehicle and led officers on a deadly chase that lasted just 72 seconds. Two handguns were found inside the vehicle. Striking a balance between the circumstances and grieving hearts of children within the district is being taken delicatly. “We all know choices have consequences but they are not worth one’s life. These are kids we are talking about these are kids that had a future. They are sons, peers, friends, mentors and leaders.
Instead of suiting up with teammates for Tuesday’s crosstown rivalry with Des Moines North Emmanuel’s jersey laid symbolically on the bench. “Sports plays a big part in my kids lives as well as this community,” Henderson said.
Each player touched the game jersey before tipoff. Vos said, “We are here for eachother and we are going to get through it together. It would be hard to get through without them or the games.”
Tuesday’s game served as a distraction his classmates and teammates needed. “Every time I hit a three I said in my head that was for E-Man,” said Vos.
All five in the crash were currently attending a Des Moines Public School leaving behind a large footprint of grieving teachers and students. “It involves the Hoover community, the Roosevelt community, the Callanan community and DMPS as a whole. We are going to miss them. We are going to miss everything they brought to our district,” said Poole.
Grief counselors are on hand all week at Edmunds Elementary, Callanan Middle School, Roosevelt High School and Hoover High School. Support can be provided virtually or in person by calling the school’s main office number.