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Teen drowned in Lake Bella Vista had epilepsy

Molly Rasmussen

Sixteen-year-old jumped in and never came up

By Beth Altena, The Rockford Squire

A beautiful spring day on the lake ended with shock and agony when a 16-year-old girl drowned after going under the water and not coming back up. 

The incident happened around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, June 2 at the west end of the lake near the Kent County dock that is a permanent structure at the berm known as the Lake Bella Vista Dam. 

Rescue boats searched for 16-year-old Molly Rasmussen after she went under and did not resurface. Photo by Beth Altena.

Two young men were diving to try and find the girl, later identified by authorities as 16-year-old Molly Rasmussen. Rasmussen had just completed her sophomore year at Forest Hills Eastern. Multiple people called 9-1-1 and responders to the scene included the Kent County Sheriff Department with several vehicles and a boat, Cannon Township Fire and Rescue, the Cannon Township hovercraft, Rockford Ambulance and the City of Rockford first responders.

Photo by Beth Altena.

Divers on the scene repeatedly searched the area and appeared to be gridding off the area with floats. They used a long stick-like device they pushed down into the water and used a pontoon boat that was in the area to use various devices to try and locate the girl. Other people on a variety of boats circled at a respectful distance watching the rescuers.

A large crowd of mostly teenagers gathered on the berm during the hour-long search before authorities dispersed the crowd to either end of the long berm. After more than an hour and while dusk was settling on the lake, the hovercraft left and most boats left. Later the Kent County Sheriff Department Dive Time found the girl, but were unable to revive her and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Molly is the daughter of Cindi and Mark Rasmussen and was a celebrated athlete at her school. She reportedly suffered from epilepsy.

About 2,000 people showed up Thursday, June 4, for a candlelit vigil at the Forest Hills Eastern high school football stadium. 

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