‘We lost a good guy’ — Griffins mourning sudden death of staff member

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The Grand Rapids Griffins are mourning the loss of one of their own.

Jake Engel, a corporate sales account manager for the team, died Tuesday after having a heart attack over the weekend.  The Griffins honored Engel's memory before their game Wednesday, and they will for the rest of the season.

"Yesterday was a tough day," said Sean Wright, the Griffins' Vice President of Corporate Sales. "I got a phone call early Sunday morning from Jake's wife Rose saying that Jake had a heart attack and because of the weather it took a little while to get to the hospital.  So he battled all day Sunday, all day Monday."

The 30-year-old passed away on Tuesday, leaving behind Rose and their unborn child, a baby girl due early this summer.

"I hate to use the cliche but he was a great guy, he was a tremendous guy," Wright said. "Everybody in the office loved him. Huge smile, always did everything he could for anybody. Not just for our department, but for anybody."

The Saugatuck native was a graduate of Western Michigan University, and had been working for the Griffins for almost 3 years.

"He was part of the community and everybody seemed to love him," Wright said.

The team honored Engel's life with black stickers on their helmets with the initials "JE." The staff also wore ribbons with his initials.

The whole arena held a moment of silence for Jake before the puck drop.

"We are honored to know him and we lost a good guy," Wright said.

There's a GoFundMe page set up for Jake's family.  They also plan to set up a college fund for their unborn baby girl.

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