Student found dead by De Smet

Tony Gorder

Tony GorderEditor-in-Chief

Friends mourn the “kind-hearted’ Thomas Bjerke as law enforcement continues to investigate the details of his untimely death.

SDSU senior Thomas Bjerke, 22, was found dead near railroad tracks a half-mile east of De Smet Feb. 26.

According to Kingsbury County Sheriff Kevin Scotting, Bjerke got on the train in Brookings and froze to death after jumping or falling from the train headed toward De Smet. The train did not hit Bjerke.

Scotting said no foul play is suspected.

According to Lt. Derrick Powers of the Brookings Police Department, Bjerke attended the Blake Shelton concert at the Swiftel Center on Feb. 25 and was last seen downtown after the concert.

Powers said Brookings police are trying to determine what led to him ending up near De Smet.

“Our involvement is basically trying to figure out what happened on that night [in Brookings],” Powers said.

Bjerke was from Bradley, S.D., and was a wildlife and fisheries major.

Thomas Artz, a freshman at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, knew Bjerke from playing summer softball together.

“I thought he was a great guy. I’m glad I got to know him that summer,” Artz said. “He was always fun to be around. He livened the moment.”

Klysta Barrie, graduate of Lake Area Technical Institute, met Bjerke through her fiancĂ©. She said that Bjerke was a “kind-hearted guy” who was “very outgoing.”

“He could make me laugh about anything,” Barrie said. “Have you ever heard the song “Jump on it’? He tried to dance to it, and it was the funniest thing ever.”

Several of Bjerke’s friends mourned by posting messages on his Facebook wall.

There will be a funeral mass at 10:30 a.m. March 5 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Clark, S.D.

Executive Assistant to the President Bob Otterson encouraged students who are struggling with this loss to see SDSU’s counseling service, located in the Wellness Center. Student Counseling Services can be reached at 605-688-6146.

Anyone with information about Bjerke after midnight Feb. 26 should contact the Brookings Police Department at 605-692-2113.

#1.2042896:1028846494.png:BjerkeRGB.png:SDSU senior Thomas Bjerke:Photo Submitted by Furness Funeral Home