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Missing Lakeland University student found dead on campus

Posted at 10:48 PM, Dec 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-14 23:48:35-05

After three days of searching Lakeland University’s campus for a missing freshman, today a dive team found the body of Kaelin O'Neal in a pond on school grounds. Students and school staff members are reacting to the news of the loss of one of their own today.

Lakeland University students heard about the sudden disappearance of Kaelin O'Neal on Sunday morning.

"His roommate says that he doesn't really leave the room too often and then he did and he was gone all day," says football teammate Peyton Petersen.

"There were search parties. Both a legitimate law enforcement level and also on a more casual level, we spent some time looking around," adds Jack Merrill who is also a part of the football team O’Neal was a part of.

O'Neal left his room at about 10 A.M. on Sunday morning. His roommate also told the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s office that O’Neal left behind his wallet and cell phone. It would take 3 days until a dive team found his body in a pond located on campus.

"It's a really tragic day here. These students are our kids and the prospect of losing one of them like this is just pretty unthinkable," says David Gallianetti the Universities Director of External Relations.

Lakeland University is a small tight knit community of about 750 students, most of whom live on campus. Today’s news that they lost one of their own has hit everyone hard.

"Finals are over on Friday so a lot of students will be taking off for the semester. We're gonna need this break cause we're gonna need some time to heal," adds Gallianetti.

As a freshman O'Neal was the backup quarterback for the Muskies. In that short amount of time he had already made a lasting impression on this campus and especially his teammates.

"He's a great kid. He's got a lot of energy. He always tried to be a leader," says Petersen.

And while this campus community will mourn his loss in the weeks and months ahead, the students here will remember O’Neal for the leader and friend they lost too soon.

The death of O'Neal is still under investigation. But the Sheboygan County Sheriff's office says nothing suggests there is a criminal element in this incident.