Obituary: David Senatus, BHS ’13, Known For His Athleticism, Kindness

Photo: David Senatus (Facebook)

David Senatus, a well-loved member of Belmont High School’s Class of 2013 who played an integral part in the 2013 club rugby state championship team before traveling out west to start a new life died Wednesday, June 21 in what has been called an accidental drowning.

Senatus was 23.

“He was an incredible teammate, friend, and person and I’m going to miss him forever,” said Barrett Lyons, who was a good friend and teammate of Senatus on the Belmont High School football and club rugby teams. 

Greg Bruce, Senatus’ teacher and rugby coach, said the news of his death was “heart-wrenching” to those who knew “this unique young man with the big personality and great smile.”

Press reports from the Davis County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday said Senatus jumped from a popular rope swing attached to a tree branch into a pond in Farmington, Utah just after sunset just past 9 p.m. on Wednesday, June 21. After surfacing, Senatus was heading for shore when he began struggling before sinking below the surface.

After his friends could not locate him in the water, Emergency crews were called at 9:50 p.m. Senatus – who was visiting friends in the Salt Lake City area – was found shortly after 11:35 p.m. but could not be saved.

Law enforcement said cold temperatures of the water – the pond’s source is snow runoff – and “inefficiency while swimming” may have led to the drowning, which remains under investigation. Police said drugs or alcohol were not a factor.

With family in Boston and Belmont, Senatus transferred from East Boston High School to Belmont in his sophomore year.

“I remember the day I met David,” said Lyons. “His personality took over whatever room it was he walked into. Despite being the ‘new kid.’ Everybody who knew him loved and respected David immensely.”

“David’s sense of humor is what a lot of people will remember about him; one of the funniest kids I’ve ever met. He would have a group of guys legitimately rolling on the ground, uncontrollably laughing,” said his friend.

Bruce, who worked closely with Senatus during his time as a student in Belmont, said “David could have been negative about school but he never allowed himself to be that way. He was always upbeat, someone who worked extremely hard towards a better life.”

Senatus made an immediate impact on Belmont’s athletic fields.

“He worked extremely hard in athletics and was one of the most naturally gifted athletes I’ve ever competed with. That includes my brief stint playing Division 1 football… he was more athletic than everyone on that team,” said Lyons.

In his final Thanksgiving Day varsity football game, Senatus was matched up Watertown star receiver TJ Hairston. Despite losing, Senatus’ performance was remembered by the way he man-handled a tall (six-foot, five-inch) All-Scholastic receiver. 

“Hairston messaged me after David’s death, saying ‘that’s the one kid in high school who could shut me down.’ David didn’t even have experience playing corner, he was just a more gifted athlete than everyone else on the field. He was fast, strong, and vicious in contact,” said Lyons.

David played an integral part in Belmont’s Rugby Club’s 2013 State Championship campaign.

“I’ve never played with somebody who could just impose their will on others the way he did. We would never have broken St. Johns Prep six-year winning streak if it wasn’t for [him]. He broke an amazing 40 yard try with the clock running down. No way we win that game or the state championship without David,” said Lyons.

Bruce, who is Belmont’s long-time rugby head coach, used Senatus as the team’s “impact substitute,” inserting him in the second half of matches when the other team was exhausted.

“David would come in and be so physical, so fast, the opponent would struggle to stop him,” said Bruce, who recalled Senatus’ raw emotion not only on the pitch, but also from the sideline encouraging his teammates.

But it was Senatus great sense of humanity that is being remembered.

“David was also the type of kid who would say hi to everyone, especially those who looked like they needed it. In high school, we all know those quiet reserved kids who look uncomfortable socially. David would sit with these kids and treat them just like he would the varsity athletes,” Lyons said.

“Despite being one of the most intimidating kids to ever walk the halls of Belmont High School, David made sure everyone knew the kindness in his heart. He had that ‘treat the janitor the same way you’d treat the CEO’ attitude. And he was beloved for it. It’s just the way he was,” said Lyons.

After graduation, Senatus returned to Boston, for a time working at Abercrombie & Fitch.

Later, Senatus moved to the West Coast taking classes and playing football at a junior college in California before he was injured. He then moved to Utah with his brother and was working and taking classes at LDS Business College in Salt Lake City when he died.

A wake for Senatus will be held Friday, June 30 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Waitt Funeral Home, 850 North Main St., Brockton. A funeral service will take on Saturday, July 1 at 9 a.m. in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 79 Mt. Hope St., Roslindale. Burial to follow at Melrose Cemetery, on North Pearl Street in Brockton.

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