PEQUOT, SD --- Pequot High School's security officer, Nate Obst, last night died from severe burns suffered in what students and community members have called an "innocent prank" that went terribly wrong.
Obst, who according to freshman Carla Penske enjoyed a cordial relationship with Pequot's youngsters, apparently had been drinking with some of the varsity basketball players. After Obst had passed out, nineteen year-old Ray Knudsen, Jr. pulled down his pants and smeared roofing tar on his buttocks. Knudsen's girlfriend Susan Olson then set it on fire.
"We were just going to light his farts," she said, tears streaming down her face. "He always gets gassy when he is drunk, you know."
Olson added that the youngsters tried to extinguish the flames with moist blankets once they noticed a smell of burning flesh, but that their efforts actually caused the flames to spread.
Sixteen year-old freshman Tara Wilmers remembers Obst as a kind and generous person.
"You know, he'd always say something like ‘Don't you look pretty today' when I'd wear something sexy like a tube top with a mini skirt, or when I'd show him a new tattoo or piercing," she said. "Once he gave me fifty bucks ‘cause I said I needed an abortion. But I really wanted to buy some booze. You know, I didn't want to get him in trouble."
Olson's brother Troy, now enrolled in a GED program in the nearby Yankton State Prison, praised Obst's tireless efforts to advocate for the students.
"He'd let the teachers know when he felt they were wrong to send us to the office," he said, laughing. "You know, one time he came right into the English teacher's classroom -- in the middle of class -- and he gave Miss Sparrow a piece of his mind, and she started crying, and we were laughing so hard we were crying. She must've felt real small when he was done with her. Then she started drinking, and that mellowed her out a lot. So it was really a good thing for everyone, you know, even her."
Kathee Krause, captain of the cheerleading squad, said Obst would be missed.
"It wasn't like he was a big mean, like, security guy with a big, mean attitude," she added. "He was more like an uncle. Goodbye, Nate Obst, we'll miss our security uncle."
Pequot's chief of police, Al Smith, said no charges would be filed.
"It's pretty obvious this was an accident, and I think the kids learned their lesson," he said. "Don't play with matches when you're drunk."