Family and friends of Hunter Boutain will attend a funeral service for the 14-year-old Monday morning, four days after he died from what officials believe was a deadly rare amoeba contracted while swimming.
The service will be held at 11 a.m. at the Holiday Inn in Alexandria, with a visitation period one hour prior. A separate visitation was held at Anderson Funeral Home Sunday.
Boutain – who his family says loved baseball, basketball and skateboarding, as well as playing bass with the Discovery Middle School orchestra and jazz band – is thought to have been infected by an amoeba known to cause primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) after recently swimming in Pope County's Lake Minnewaska.
Infection only occurs when the organism enters a person’s body through the nose – usually when people get water in their nose while swimming or diving – and then travels to the brain, according to the Minnesota Department of Health, which announced the suspected infection last Tuesday.
The family is asking people to wear turquoise – Boutain's favorite color – on Monday in honor of him. They also prefer that, in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Hunter Boutain Memorial Fund at Glenwood State Bank in Alexandria, his CaringBridge page says.
Boutain had recently decided to work in the ministry, his family said in a statement. He enjoyed attending Bible camps and loved being part of the Lakeland United Pentecostal Church Youth Group.
He was planning to go to Oklahoma City for the UPC North American Youth Congress to compete in a national Bible quizzing competition. He'd memorized 468 Bible verses to prepare for it.
And "much to his dad's dismay," he was a Packers fan, the family said.
Family and friends have shared their condolences and memories of Boutain on social media.
Officials say lakes are still safe
In the days following the health department's announcement, the beaches at Lake Minnewaska were eerily empty.
One lifeguard at Glenwood's city beach told KARE 11 the week after the Fourth of July is usually "packed" – but instead, the beach had so few swimmers they could've been counted on two hands.
WCCO reported a similar scene, and said the mayor of Glenwood is offering free nose plugs to people who want them.
The infection, which is nearly always fatal, is caused by a microscopic amoeba called Naegleria fowleri. It's commonly found in fresh water and soil around the world but thrives in warmer waters – infections are more common in southern states, though three young Minnesota children, including Boutain, are suspected to have died from the infection in the past five years.
Health officials in Minnesota and North Dakota, however, say the lake is still safe, the Forum reports. Business owners and local officials had similar comments for WCCO and KARE 11.
“The fact there has been one confirmed case from this lake does not make the lake more dangerous,” Sharon Braaten, assistant administrator with Pope County's Horizon Public Health, told WCCO.
The number of people who become ill is relatively low, with 35 cases reported across the country from 2005-2014, the Minnesota health department notes.