Denton County Teenager Dies in His Sleep - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Denton County Teenager Dies in His Sleep

Popular 13-year-old boy to be remembered in vigil



    The Denton County town of Argyle will hold a candlelight vigil Friday night to remember a popular 13-year-old boy who died in his sleep Monday night.

    Seventh-grader Alex Betzhold was known as the "gentle giant."

    At 6 feet, he was unusually tall for a seventh grader. He played football and basketball. He also played the trumpet in the school band.

    And as his friends will tell you, he stood out not -- and just because of his height.

    13-Year-Old to Be Remembered at Vigil

    [DFW] 13-Year-Old to Be Remembered at Vigil
    Friends of seventh-grader Alex Betzhold say they will try to be better people in his memory.
    (Published Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012)

    "Out of all the people I've talked to, I haven't heard one negative thing about him," said longtime friend Brayden Ratcliff, also 13.

    Betzhold was always smiling and was nice to everyone, he said.

    On Monday, everything was normal. Betzhold played with several friends Monday evening.

    "He seemed perfectly fine," Ratcliff said.

    But Tuesday morning, he never woke up.

    "I learned his mom found him unresponsive just before I left for school," said another friend, Max McWhorter, 13. "And I found out he [had] passed on my way to school."

    The Tarrant County Medical Examiner is conducting an autopsy to see if he had an undiagnosed heart condition.

    It could be several weeks before a cause of death is determined, spokeswoman Linda Anderson said.

    Betzhold had no known medical problems.

    He was active in Argyle's United Methodist Church, where youth pastor Nathan Bryant knew him for several years.

    "To fall asleep and never wake up -- we all talk about it," Bryant said. "That's the way we'd like to go when we're 100, right? That's how we'd all like to go one day. We just never in our life would think, you know, at the age of 13, that would even be a possibility."

    Bryant said he has been honest in conversations with Betzhold's friends and told them he cannot explain his death.

    "It's just the tragedy of the world we live in where there is not an explanation for certain things," he said.

    Betzhold's friends, who spoke to NBC 5 with their parents' permission, say his death leaves a lasting impression.

    "It just makes you think about stuff differently," said friend Josh Block. "It made me think that, you know, that could happen to any of us. We could go to sleep and not wake up and it sort of scares you to think about it."

    They say they'll try to be better people in honor of him.

    "It also makes you think sometimes, like, 'What would Alex do?'" McWhorter said.

    "I want to be somebody like Alex," Ratcliff added. "When I leave, they'll remember, 'Oh he's a good guy.'"

    The vigil will take place in the Argyle High School parking lot Friday at about 9:15 p.m., after the basketball games.

    A memorial service will be held Sunday at 3 p.m. at Argyle's United Methodist Church.

    "His presence will be felt in this town for many, many years to come," Bryant said.