Campus mourns loss of student

Hugues Kazadi Mutombo

Hugues Kazadi Mutombo

Ryan Land

Students, faculty, and staff on the Neosho campus are continuing to recover after the sudden loss of a fellow student.

Hugues Kazadi Mutombo, 22, of the Democratic Republic of Congo, passed away on Sept. 27 after suffering from a cardiac arrest while returning home by foot from the Neosho YMCA. A motorist found Mutombo struggling with respiratory problems on the side of Highway 59 and notified emergency responders. He was transported by ambulance to Freeman Neosho Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

An autopsy was performed on Sept. 29 in Springfield, Mo. where results proved that Mutombo died of natural causes.

According to the investigation prior to the autopsy being completed, investigators believed that no foul play was involved in his death.

A memorial service was held for Mutombo on Oct. 1 at Calvary Baptist Church in Neosho. Select family members, as well as classmates and Crowder faculty and staff, were able to tell stories about their memories with him. During the service, Crowder staff presented his siblings with an honorary associate’s degree in nursing, as he was planning to graduate at the conclusion of this semester.

While Mutombo pursued his degree, he worked as a night shift custodian at the Neosho campus. Melinda Rantz, custodial supervisor, recalled that he always kept a positive attitude at all times.

“He was such a good, happy person,” said Rantz. “He never got mad. He’s just a real gentle soul.”

For Beth Persons, adjunct instructor for developmental studies, she thought about what his fellow students were going through with the grieving process.

“I felt a lot of compassion for the students because we have a lot of students from Congo,” said Persons. “For the students that I have, I felt really bad for them.”

Persons, who teaches English Language classes to a lot of Crowder’s international students, thought of Mutombo as a down to earth kind of person.

“He was absolutely the kindest, quietest, spirited man you’ve ever met,” Persons stated. “I would see him in the hall when he was cleaning. That’s how I saw him more, as a friend in the hall … I did not have him as a student.”

Norris Ntambwa, network and software technology major, recalls the brotherhood he shared with Mutombo while living in Neosho and attending Crowder.

“He was my best friend,” Ntambwa stated. “He was living in the same roof with me. He’s my brother.”

An official funeral service took place in Minneapolis, where Mutombo’s family and friends currently reside.