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Alan Earl Bensinger, 16 -- Unexplained Death

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HOWELL, MI -- Howell High School had a grief support team in place today for students and staff following the unexplained death of a Howell student Tuesday morning.

Alan Earl Bensinger, 16, died at his home, according to information from the school district. He would have been 17 next month.

"All of the members of the high school community mourn the loss of Alan,'' said a statement released from the school district. His funeral was scheduled for Friday.

Interim Howell Police Chief Ed Harwood said an autopsy will be performed. He said he could not speculate on the cause of death but he said that there was no foul play.

"We'll have to wait until the (autopsy) results come back'' to determine a cause of death, Harwood said.

This is at least the second loss of a student faced by the Howell High School community this school year. Sophomore Mackenzie Watts fell ill and died poolside at the school last November.

Bensinger was a Howell native who was active in the high school band program. He attended both Northwest Elementary School and Highlander Way Middle School, the school statement said.

The high school junior played French horn in class and for two years had been one of the school's bagpipers in the marching band, said Jason Smigell, a music teacher and Howell High School director of bands.

Smigell said Bensinger had been in his class for the past three years.

"His loss hurts a great deal,'' he said. "Even the kids who did not know him well are hurting. We're a family. A band group is tight knit. It's just very sad.''

Rehearsals were canceled Tuesday as band students and others talked about their classmate. Smigell said he hopes that when the band plays again it will help the grieving process. "I'm hoping that it will have a cathartic effect,'' he said.

Bensinger was personable and had many friends, Smigell added. "He always had a smile on his face.''

He is survived by his parents, Julie Bensinger of Howell and Russell Bensinger of White Lake Township, and a sister, Heidi Bensinger, a 2005 graduate of Howell High School.



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