WMU mourns 25-year-old student who died of COVID-19

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Students at Western Michigan University are mourning after a student died of COVID-19.

On Sunday, the university president, Edward Montgomery, identified the student as 25-year-old Bassey Offiong.

“Bassey was a young man of enormous potential who was scheduled to graduate with his degree in chemical engineering in just a few weeks. On behalf of the entire Bronco community, I want to extend my deepest condolences to his entire family, including his sister Asari, who has been generous in communicating with us regularly. They are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” Montgomery stated.

Offiong was from Detroit. He attended Renaissance High School, where he was a notable part of the football team, according to friends.

Friends say he was devoted to his family, faith and a peaceful person.

“This is the first (person) close to me that died. I actually knew him, that was my brother,” said Offiong’s friend Sean Bigham.

Bigham said losing Offiong in this way has blindsided everyone.

“I love him, man. He was the best person you could be. I’m sorry this happened to somebody as good as you,” added Bigham.

Kalamazoo County Health Officer Jim Rutherford confirmed COVID-19 led to Offiong’s death.

Rutherford said while Offiong was not a resident of Kalamazoo County, “however, this virus has no borders when it comes to who it affects and how it is spread. We urge everyone to help us fight community spread by following the Governor’s executive order. Stay home and, if you must go out for essential items, stay safe by taking preventative measures.”

Kalamazoo County has 19 confirmed cases of COVID-19.