Watervliet community gathers to mourn teen who died Monday

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The Watervliet community came together Tuesday night to mourn the teen boy who drowned Monday on the Hudson River while fishing, after police say he suffered a medical episode.

His high school community marking the last day of school Tuesday.

But the usual anticipation that comes with that day turned to sadness, as a student who would have celebrated becoming a high school senior is now gone.

16-year-old Matthew Billetts is remembered as a smiley, easygoing kid. And Tuesday, it was clear the 11th grade student touched many lives.

Students, teachers, family and friends packed the football field and bleachers at Watervliet High School. His sister told the crowd Matthew loved his tight-knit community.

“He loved you all very much thank you for coming,” she said.

One of Matthew’s teachers tells NewsChannel 13 he was always happy.

Photos showed him fishing, as police say he was Monday, and spending time with family. Students left memories of Matthew on paper bags on the field.

People attending say he had Epilepsy, and many wore purple for Epilepsy awareness. They lit candles and joined together in song.

“He’s a kind soul, he is always has a smile, truly, truly genuine with school spirit and he loved Watervliet, he loved being here, he was a champion of our schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Donald Stevens.

As students part ways for the summer, Superintendent Stevens says counselors and the school’s health center will still be available, should anyone need help dealing with the loss.