ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In most ways it was a joyous Friday night for members of the Roseville High School Class of 2017, as faculty members applauded hundreds of graduates as they entered Roy Wilkins Auditorium.
But there was an empty seat draped with an cap and gown in the midst of it all, in honor of Declan "Duck" Raverty who was killed in a motorcycle crash just one day short of the commencement ceremony.
"There were a lot of tears and a lot of hugs, and just a really sad emotional day at Roseville High School," faculty member Jeff Davies told KARE.
Davies had Raverty as a student in five woodshop classes, and also coached him in football and track.
"The thought of his family grieving is just really heartbreaking, because with a personality that big it's really difficult."
The Minnesota State Patrol is still investigating the accident, but it appears an SUV pulled out of Sunnyside Marina in Stillwater, turning left of Raverty before he had time to react.
Raverty and his passenger, who survived, were both wearing helmets, according to the accident report. The passenger was taken to Regions Hospital and is expected to recover.
"He recently got the motorcycle. He parked it outside the wood shop," Davies remarked. "I always saw him wearing his helmet. He was a very responsible bike rider."
During what should have been his commencement exercise, Raverty was honored with a moment of silence.
"We tried to laugh today. If you knew Duck, he took a great deal of joy in making people laugh. He was a very funny kid, generous, gregarious. When you'd see him walk down the hall it was almost as if he owned the hall," Davies said.
"Certainly our hearts and thoughts and prayers are with his family, and I think all the administrators, the teachers, the students, everybody loved Duck."