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Young LOHS student takes his own life

A Lake Oswego High School freshman died Sunday after he tried to commit suicide in the parking lot of the Washington Square Mall.

According to the Tigard Police Department, William Smeltz asked to stay in the family's van alone while his mother and younger brother went shopping.

When his mother returned to the car around 5 p.m., she found Smeltz strangled by a seat belt and called 9-1-1.

Personnel from Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue and the Tigard Police Department arrived on the scene within minutes.

The crew removed Smeltz from the vehicle and began administering life support, according to Karen Eubanks, public information officer for TVF and R.

Smeltz was unresponsive but still alive, said TPD Public Information Officer Jim Wolf.

Smeltz was transported to Providence St. Vincent's Medical Center and then to Oregon Health and Sciences University Hospital Trauma Center. He was pronounced dead a few hours later, Wolf said.

Officials from the TPD said Smeltz died of injuries from self-inflicted strangulation.

Smeltz, who formerly attended Forest Hills Elementary School, had returned to the Lake Oswego School District on Sept. 6.

'Our teachers didn't know him well, but the teachers who had him in class talked about how enthusiastic he was and seemed to enjoy school,' said LOHS Principal Bruce Plato.

Previously, he was a student at Gately Academy, the Portland area's only middle school for students with learning disabilities.

He also attended Our Lady of the Lake School before moving to Forest Hills in 2001.

'He was a bright student, particularly in the areas of math and science,' said Gately Principal Dan Ball.

Smeltz's dream was to graduate high school, attend a military academy and become a fighter pilot, Ball said. He had good attendance and his family was highly involved in school activities.

'I know this was a man who had ambitions in life and he had designed steps forward,' Ball said.

The transition from the small, private academy to LOHS may have been difficult for Smeltz, who had to make new friends and attend larger classes.

'That makes any middle school child apprehensive,' Ball said.

'Obviously, it's difficult for the students who knew him,' said Plato who spoke with the Smeltz family Monday. School counselors were aware of the situation and offering support for his peers.

'It's such a hard thing to talk about,' he added.

Additional reporting provided by Tigard Times reporter Barbara Sherman.