Maxwell 
"Max"                     
Ver Beek 

 

Twins, Maxwell and Samantha Ver Beek

Max Ver beek was Traumatized by his twin, Samantha, very early on.

Max was a twin. He shared the womb with his sister, Samantha. He was stuck at the bottom portion of the womb.  Samantha was high-maintenance at birth and nearly died.  Her recovery was nothing short of a miracle. Girls and their drama. 

Maxwell somehow survived the birthing trauma and life began with a 2-baby handful. Diapers, feedings, baths, repeat. Everything times two. 

A few months after they were born, my wife was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. After nearly a four year battle, Max's mother, Lindy, passed away. She was 35. He was just turning four. 

A sweet, gentle soul

Max was a tender-hearted child. He was a quiet boy, but he had a fun side too. He loved to golf, play basketball, video game and go to Hop Cat and Sperry Moviehouse  with his friends. Max was just learning to drive. His 15th birthday would have been on October 15, 2023.

Max Ver Beek
Dustin and Maxwell Ver Beek

WASHING OUR RIDES

Max and Lindy Ver Beek

MAX AND LINDY 

Max and Lindy Ver Beek

Life with twins and 
breast cancer 
2009-2012

LINDY AND MAX, JUNE 2012

SEPTEMBER 14, 2012
Lindy passes away at 35.

2012.

Samantha, Dustin and Max VerBeek

Dad time 24/7

Ethan, Max and Hudson

“Everything...affects everything”

Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

MAXWELL Ver Beek

Max Ver Beek

Dressing himself

 

Brooklyn, Samantha, Max, Levi and Isaac

Fun with Uncle Clair

BEST FRIENDS

2013 - august 31, 2023

Amy and I blended our families on August 2, 2013. She came into our lives at just the right time. 

Click an image to engage the lightbox photo viewer. 

Amy and Maxwell Ver Beek

Max legally ADOPTED BY AMY
August 9, 2019

Maxwell Ver Beek

Fifth grade wax museum

Golf with brothers

Maxwell Ver Beek
Max Ver Beek

creekside 
BASKETBALL

Maxwell VerBeek

driving 
May 2023

August 12, 2023 

 

 

Hijinks with Hudson

Max and Hudson Ver Beek
Maxwell Ver Beek

GOLF WITH PAPA DALE

Maxwell Ver Beek

COAST GUARD FEST 
JULY 28, 2023

BUDDIES

Good friends make everything fun!

August 29, 2023
First week of HIGH school
Zeeland west high school

THURSDAY, August 31, 2023

First Zeeland West home football game.  7 PM

Classmate supplies
Tito's vodka concealed in 
water bottles .  We're told there were six. 

Water bottles are allowed into zeeland Stadium events. 

Max consumes a 
large amount of 
vodka and 
pukes in the 
student section. 

Taunting starts. 
Posting to social 
begins. BULLYING

Max calls me
to pick him up. 

He tells me he 
got sick. 

This was my last text to Max, letting him know I was there to pick him up.  He was visibly drunk

8:10 PM–I arrive to Zeeland Stadium to pick Max up. 

8:24 PMMax arrives to our vehicle walking with the Zeeland West Assistant Principal. Something is majorly off. Max looks different to me. 

8:30 PM–After a private discussion with the Assistant Principal, we departed for home. 

8:33 PMMax begins vomiting in the Jeep and all over himself.

8:45 PM–Arrive home. 
 

*Times are approximated. based on calls/text. and home security.

1
SEPT
2023

Death Day

6:15 AM *

Thought to be the time Max crashed 100+ mph into a tree in Hamilton, Michigan. There was a fiery explosion. Max likely perished instantly. 

Dispatch
Human Grief

BLIND-SIDED 
September 1, 2023 
HORROR & Disbelief

THE TRUTH  
BEGINS TO SHOW ITSELF

Human Grief

Overwhelming grief was the inspiration for this AI-enhanced artwork.  

UNREAL 
September 2, 2023 
GUT-WRENCHING GRIEF

Grief AI Art by Dustin Ver Beek

"GRIEF WAVES"
 Original AI-enhanced art by Dustin Ver Beek

Wednesday, September 6, 2023
PRIVATE Funeral for Max

Max was cremated
and remains with us

September 7, 2023

New information was flowing in along with more painful truths. 

Amy Ver Beek at crash site

SEPTEMBER 20, 2023 

 

 

An acutely emotional visit to Max's crash site. 





September 21, 2023

3:35 AM


 




 

Awake and wandering, missing my son. 

Email sent to ZPS Superintendent on Friday, 9/22/2023. 3 weeks after Max died. 

Dear Brandi-Lyn Mendham, PhD ,

On behalf of my family, we need to express sadness that you did not reach out to our family with your condolences for the death of our son, Maxwell Ver Beek. It would have meant so much. 

The shock of his suicide and the horrendous grief we experience every waking minute is sometimes too much to bear. Now we are looking for a few things to happen at ZPS. 

Out of respect for my family, we are requesting that filled water bottles no longer be allowed at game entrances. Alcohol is readily available for kids; allowing water bottles is an open invitation for kids to smuggle it (and adults too). Instead, students can bring empty water bottles and fill them up at the water fountain or concession stand for free. We have realized through public response that underage drinking in Zeeland is a pervasive problem. 

Does ZPS look the other way regarding alcohol at games? 

We request a required Zeeland West High School assembly about the dangers of alcohol and how it affects the adolescent brain. It increases depression and makes it more likely they will follow through with the action of suicide because it loosens the self-restraint you feel, make it harder to weigh the pros and cons of decisions, and finding solutions to problems. We also ask that the assembly include the dangers of online bullying and ask that the district make a policy that if there is a student found to do this, there be a minimum suspension of 10 days. Since our website went live, we've had several students and parents tell us that ZPS has a very high rate of bullying. One parent has said they had to remove their child from the district due to actions not being taken against the bully. Another student said they have attended other districts and ZPS is by far the worst with bullying. 

Why does ZPS remain silent? 

Suppliers of alcohol should be expelled from all school sports team events. A simple suspension is not enough. 

Will ZPS make an example of this student? 

Max's suicide was preventable. He was alcohol poisoned from Vodka that was supplied by a ZPS student and continued to drink while sitting at a ZPS function. We set up a website that is garnering 10,000 visitors a day. We've been approached by several local media's that want to pick up this story. We can control the narrative and drive change in this community. We will not go away, there has to be change in order to have our son's death make a difference and not be for naught. 

Thank you for your reply in advance and willingness to partner with us for change. 

Dustin & Amy Ver Beek 
616 836 8048 
maxwellverbeek.com

Max VerBeek

October 2, 2023

October 6, 2023

An Open Letter to Zeeland Public School Board

By Amy Ver Beek, Max's Mom

October 9, 2023

 

Dear ZPS School Board,

On Aug. 31st, our son Maxwell Ver Beek had just finished his first week as a freshman at
Zeeland West. He was so excited to attend the first home football game. We dropped him off at
the game and got a call for an early pick up. Max was saying he was sick and wanted to come
home. When his Dad, Dustin, arrived to pick him up, he was obviously intoxicated. The assistant
principal spoke with Dustin and said students were saying he was “trashed” and confirmed he
had vomited in the student section, but said he wasn’t sure because Max was still holding a
proper conversation.

On the way home, Maxwell proceeded to vomit all over himself in the car. When he got home, I
could tell he was intoxicated with either drugs or alcohol. He admitted to being drunk, but
wouldn’t tell us where he got the alcohol. We spent time with him to make sure he was okay and
then told him to try and go to sleep and we would deal with it in the morning. We made sure to
tell him how much we loved him and he had made a mistake but we could work through it. We
took his phone away so he would sleep and not continue to talk to other kids about what had
happened. We didn’t realize he had his old phone that didn’t have cellular service on it, but still
had wifi so he could access social media.

Dustin got up at 6 am to let the dog out and saw that our Jeep was gone. He quickly rushed
downstairs and also saw that Max was gone. We had several families out looking for him. When
we realized it was futile, we called the police to get help. Within a half hour there were 3 police
officers that came to our door and told us they believed it was Max who had crashed our Jeep
into a tree and caused an explosion. They originally didn’t know for sure because there was
hardly anything left of the Jeep or Max.

Within a few hours of learning Max had died, we started to get bombarded with even more
disturbing news. We were told that kids at the game had taken out their phones and had taken
pictures and videos of him vomiting on himself and others and put them on social media to
humiliate him. We suspect he was able to see all the social media posts and become mortified.
We have a screenshot from Tic Toc, from one of your children, where she states, “He felt guilty
and mad at himself looking at us stare at him and take pictures.” Another student commented
under her post saying “He threw up on a lot of people and people started taking pictures and
videos to mock him and make fun of him, it’s really sad.”

Within a few days, we were told by an Allegan Co Police officer that a student had confessed to
supplying Max the alcohol and admitted to getting the alcohol from her parents. And it wasn’t
the first time the student had done this. A girl with Max at the game told us the girl had supplied
Max with around 6 water bottles full of Tito’s Vodka (this would approximately equal 4 Fifths of
Vodka) and that he and other students were drinking it in those water bottles at the game.
We appreciated the communication from Travis Spaman and Jessica Knoth in that first week.
But a week went by and we hadn’t gotten a single email or phone call from the Superintendent.
Another week went by and still nothing. After the 3rd week, we sent an email to her saying we
were disappointed and saddened that she never reached out to us. We had several excuses
such as “I have struggled with when and how to approach your family” or “members of our high
school staff had been in close contact with you.” It took 30 days for her to make a phone call to
us.

We feel that one of the roles of a Superintendent is to absolutely reach out to families within the
first week, when this type of occurrence happens. I’ve spoken to a parent who not long ago lost
their son to suicide at ZPS. To their knowledge, their child did not experience bullying at school,
nor was he given drugs or alcohol from a student and Cal DeKuiper still reached out to them the
first week, without them asking for it. But Max was given alcohol by a student at ZPS at a ZPS
school sponsored function, and the cyber bullying occurred by ZPS students at a school
sponsored function and the Superintendent was silent.

It has been going on 6 weeks since Max died and other than providing counselors for students
who request it, there has been nothing done to address the student body about this tragedy and
how a student providing alcohol to a peer and/or the cyberbullying were contributing factors in
our son’s death. Not a single assembly, not a “homeroom” discussion, not a vigil or moment of
silence, NOTHING. A Grand Haven Public Schools parent told us that right after Max’s death,
the school had “very serious, no bullying talks with the students.” Holland Christian Schools had
a day where all their students wore white in honor of Max. If other districts can address it, why
can’t ZPS???

I am sincerely asking you to pause for one second. I’m sure all of you have kids in the district, or
have at some point. Please reach to the most empathetic parts of your soul and think about
what you would want done if this happened to your child. Wouldn’t you want the girl and parents
that supplied your child with the alcohol to get a consequence that matched the action?
Wouldn’t you also think that a five day suspension is just a slap on the wrist and no lessons will
be learned? Wouldn’t you want the students who ridiculed and mocked your child to have some
sort of consequence? Knowing these two things absolutely contributed to your child feeling so
degraded and humiliated that they took their own life?

Here is a list of things we think the board should consider:

  • We would like to see that any student suspected of being intoxicated (especially when
    other students are saying they are “trashed”), be checked by the Officer on duty. They
    are trained to know when people are under the influence and can pick up on cues that
    civilians can’t. If they do a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer and are found to be
    intoxicated, they are issued ramifications. According to the Policy handbook, page 34,
    they should be subject to expulsion, especially if this was a second offense.
  • If a student is found to consume or distribute alcohol to another student, they should not
    only get a 10 day suspension, (we heard she only received a 5 day suspension), but not
    be allowed to attend sporting events, and ZPS Code of Conduct states a first offense is
    them being suspended from 25% of their sports season and a second offense they are to be                               suspended from 50% of their sports season. The ZPS handbook, page 34, states
    the student could be expelled, and it “WILL affect the student’s athletic and
    extracurricular participation.” Especially if this is a second offense. And we were told
    by the Allegan Co. Sheriff, who spoke to the school resource officer that this was not the
    first time she has supplied alcohol to others and the school has a record of this.
    Lessons are learned by consequences.
  • Any student who is found to have recorded another student in a position of “personal
    degradation” (your words from the handbook), and distributes it on social media should
    also be disciplined. This is bullying according to ZPS handbook, page 39, and is
    punishable up to expulsion. It states, “refusing to tolerate harassment or bullying is
    expected of administrators. This applies to all school-sponsored activities or functions.”
    This bullying occurred at a football game which is a school-sponsored event. On page
    40, it states, “if the investigation finds an instance of bullying has occurred, it will result in
    prompt and appropriate remedial action. This may include up to expulsion for students.”
    Lessons are learned by consequences.
  • We also ask that ZPS make it a policy that filled water bottles or containers not be
    allowed into school sponsored events. We ask that water bottles and backpacks be
    checked at the gate and if the water bottles are full, they have to be poured out before
    entering, but can be filled up at the concession stands or provide filling stations.
  • When something as severe as this situation occurs, there should be some type of
    education to go out to the entire student body that address the contributing factors of the
    person’s suicide, such as them being provided drugs or alcohol by other students, or
    bullying or cyber bullying. This education needs to happen within a week or two of the
    event, while it’s still fresh on everyone’s minds. These contributing factors were
    committed by the people in that student body. We believe if it wasn’t for the alcohol and
    then the subsequent bullying, our son Max wouldn’t have taken his own life.
  • The school should also have a liaison specifically for communication to parents when
    events like this occur. This liaison could be the point person to check in with parents. Any
    updates at all are better than none.

Please consider the proposals in this letter,

Thank you,

Dustin and Amy Ver Beek

 

Photos and memories from birth to 14.75 years old.  To add images, contact us.

Max the Frog

MAX VER BEEK

For Max 

Together, We Can Make a Difference

If you share our passion for saving young lives and believe in the power of education, join us in our new mission. Together, we can create a brighter future for all. Support the Maxwell Ver Beek anti-suicide mission today. All funds donated will be directly invested into this mission.

mawellverbeek.com

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