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Valley City gathers to remember student

VALLEY CITY — Just as the sun set on a cold and rainy gray sky here Wednesday night, field lights suddenly illuminated the Valley City State University football field where more than 250 students, staff and residents gathered as a memorial to baseball standout and VCSU senior Dan Buehner.

Buehner is believed to have drowned after a rubber raft carrying him and two fellow students went over a small dam on the Sheyenne River, known as “Little Dam,” and capsized around 1 a.m. Monday.

After local search and rescue crews spent much of the day looking for Buehner in hopes he had survived like his fellow teammates, his body was found Tuesday morning.

After a memorial inside the W.E. Osmon Fieldhouse on the VCSU campus, the hundreds of mourners went outside to release red and white balloons that had personal messages scrawled on them remembering the student and standout baseball player.

Inside, the crowd consisting of longtime Valley City residents, VCSU students, staff and area college baseball teammates and coaches who sat shoulder to shoulder as individuals remembered the 23-year-old.

“I’m proud to say I’m a Viking,” said VCSU senior Kayle Hamre, an Enderlin native and outfielder on the baseball team. “It’s been amazing how everyone has been able to come together.”

Buehner’s friends painted a picture of the No. 15 catcher, who was known to most by an array of nicknames he happily answered to that described him as a soft-spoken but straight-talking personality. He valued hard work and dedication.

Friends who knew Buehner said Wednesday that he could be stubborn and “stuck in his ways,” but he was the first to make new teammates feel welcome and was as loyal to those who got to know him as he was to baseball.

Memorial services for Buehner, a Blaine, Minn., native, have not yet been announced. He is survived by his mother, father and an older sister.

On Wednesday, VCSU head coach Casey Olney read a letter from his father, who thanked the school and city for all of their support and kind words.

Buehner’s father also asked that the team — which had canceled games Tuesday and Wednesday — play Saturday in honor of his son, who was proud to be a part of the Vikings’ legacy.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and and at CBS Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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