The greater Bel Air community has been stunned by the death of Isaac Thomas Pfarr, a 17-year-old junior football player for the Patterson Mill High Huskies, who died suddenly over the weekend at his home.
"It is with sadness that I inform you of the death of Isaac Pfarr, one of our 11th -grade students," Patterson Mill Principal Sean Abel said in a robocall message sent to parents Monday. "Isaac passed away yesterday (Sunday) as a result of a seizure."
The principal encouraged people who knew Isaac to "remember and celebrate his love of football and of his friends."
Many Patterson Mill students and others from the community gathered at the school Sunday evening for a vigil to remember their classmate.
Bruce Goldfarb, spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, said Tuesday that the cause of Isaac's death is under investigation.
Abel said counselors would be available to support students "as long as necessary" and that students might come home with questions and concerns about the loss of their classmate.
"Please take the time to discuss this with them and help them process through their grief," he told parents.
In a statement issued through Harford County Public Schools Tuesday morning, Abel said: "We are deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic loss of one of our students, Isaac Pfarr. We hope that you understand that we do not wish to infringe upon the family's privacy at this time so we will not be providing additional comment. We do have additional counseling and staff to support our school community during this difficult time."
Abel also announced there would be a moment of silence before each Patterson Mill home game in all sports this week, as well as before the next home JV football game on Oct. 27 and the next home varsity football game on Oct. 28.
Isaac was the son of Robert and Sarah (Brill) Pfarr and the brother of Aaron and Abigail Pfarr, according to obituary information on the Schimunek Funeral Home website.
His father is a patrol sergeant with the Bel Air Police Department, and Isaac was a member of the department's youth Explorer Post 9010, according to police department spokesperson Sgt. Jim Lockard.
"We're a small department; we're all relatively close knit." Lockard said Tuesday. "We know each other's husbands wives, kids, parents, so it affects everyone here, and it's a reality check that nobody is exempt from a family tragedy."
The department has 31 sworn officers and 18 civilian employees. The elder Pfarr, who started as a police cadet in 1998, is the supervisor of the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, according to Lockard. Fellow officers will either work flex shifts or overtime to fill in while the sergeant is with his family.
"We want him to feel free to take the time he needs to be comfortable coming back to work," Lockard said.
"Such a tragic loss for the Pfarr family, the community and the police department," Bel Air Chief Chuck Moore said.
Moore said that Isaac, "from several contacts I've had with him, was a gentle giant, had a quiet and calm demeanor and will be missed by everyone who's life he touched."
"Officers and the community are providing overwhelming emotional, logistical (meal support) and financial aid to the Pfarr family in this horrible and tragic time of need," he said.
The BAPD Explorer post is open to young people ages 14 to 21, who are trained to become future police cadets and law enforcement officers, according to the Town of Bel Air's website.
The Explorer post has set up a GoFundMe page, Final Expenses for Isaac Pfarr, online. The post made an initial contribution of $2,000, and an initial goal of raising $15,000 was exceeded, so the goal was pushed to $20,000. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than $16,000 had been raised.
A post on the GoFundMe page reads:
"Isaac was a member of the Patterson Mill High School Football Team as an offensive and defensive lineman. He was a member of the Bel Air Police Department Explorer Program and a Jarrettsville Young Marine.
"Isaac was a kind, good hearted, caring person who one would consider to be a 'gentle giant.' He had a passion for football and loved to play for his team whether it was recreational or high school.
"We would request all funds be made by October 31st, however, if the goal is not reached we will extend it as needed.
"Isaac will be profoundly missed by his family and friends. His spirit lives on in the sport that he loved. Rest Easy #57. We will miss you. Husky Pride."
At Monday night's Bel Air town meeting, Town Commissioner Brendan Hopkins asked for a moment of silence to remember the 17-year-old.
Relatives and friends are invited to call at the Schimunek Funeral Home of Bel Air, Inc., 610 West MacPhail Road, on Friday, Oct. 21, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.
A celebration of life will be held at the funeral home on Saturday, Oct. 22, with interment to follow at Angel Hill Cemetery in Havre de Grace.
Aegis staff members Allan Vought and Matt Button contributed to this report.