At the Vindicat student association, where Pennink was a member, ‘three days of uncertainty have ended in sorrow and dismay’, say the senate and board of the society committee.
Vindicat will officially be in mourning until sunrise on Friday, 14 October. The flags at the association’s building on the Grote Markt have been flying at half-staff since Monday. A book of condolences has been opened and members are given the opportunity to come together.
‘Our thoughts are with Wytze’s family, his housemates, friends and others who were close to him. We wish all of them strength. On their behalf, we want to thank everyone who helped to search for Wytze for their support and effort. It was deeply appreciated’, Vindicat says.
Student association Cleopatra has also organised a special event for its members to come together in mourning for their fellow student.
The university was shocked by the news of the 18-year-old student’s death. ‘It’s very sad for the family’, says RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens. ‘We wish them strength and will be there for them in whatever way we can.’
Along the railing of the Oude Kijk in ‘t Jat bridge, close to the spot where Pennink’s body was found, people have placed a portrait of him, dozens of flowers candles and handwritten notes. ‘Dear Wytze, we cannot believe that you’re gone. We will miss you very much’, reads one letter. ‘We wish everyone strength following this terrible news. You are in our thoughts.’
Pennink’s remains were discovered around noon by a person living in one of the houseboats on the Lopende Diep. The police department removed the body from the water with assistance from the fire department. The police investigation concluded that there was no indication of foul play.
The student was last seen on security camera footage in the area of Spilsluizen on Friday morning around 5:30. His route to his student house on the Noorderstationstraat should have led him across one of the bridges, but Pennink never made it home.
The police used tracking dogs to follow his scent, and the trail ended in the vicinity of the canal. Boats with sonar also investigated the area in the weekend, but the search team found nothing at that time.
Around 200 acquaintances of Pennink, including members of Vindicat, conducted their own search on Friday and hung up missing posters with Pennink’s photo throughout the city. But that effort also failed to provide any leads.
This is the second time this year that a student in Groningen fell into a canal and drowned after a night of going out. In May, the body of Hanze University of Applied Sciences student Sjoerd van Eijk was found in the canal on the Trompkade after he had been missing for several days. His death was also deemed a fatal accident.