4 Gillette teenagers recognized for saving another boy’s life

Boy Scouts of America Adventure West Council Assistant Director of Field Service Michael Turner (from left), Scoutmaster Garth Crowe Jr., Hayden Bennett, Hayden's parents and Cody Dover. While Dover is not in the troop, the troop recognized him for his service in an event in which he and Bennett and two other boys, and , showed heroism. (Mary Stroka/County 17)

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of harming themselves, please call 911. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or text “WYO” to 741-741 for the Crisis Text Line. Wyoming Department of Health provides more information about suicide prevention here. Wyoming State Parks and Cheyenne Regional Medical Center also rolled out a statewide campaign to increase mental health awareness in May.

GILLETTE, Wyo. — On an evening in September 2021, four boys in eighth grade saved another boy’s life.

When Cody Dover heard a boy* say that he was going to take his own life, he relied on his instincts to keep that boy safe. After trying to talk the boy out of his plan, Dover called a few of his friends to come help. Hayden Bennett, Hunter Kuenzel and Kahne Muller were hanging out together about one mile away. They immediately stopped what they were doing and rushed to the area where the boy was. Together, the four boys made sure he stayed safe until first responders arrived.

Dover said that if the boy hadn’t reached out, they wouldn’t have been able to help him.

“Suicide is no joke, and mental health is no joke,” Dover said. “If you’re really feeling depressed and all that, go talk to somebody. Don’t be scared.”

Dover’s persuading the boy to slow down his plan allowed the three other boys to be there to help, Bennett said. Bennett said he remembers feeling anxiety that they wouldn’t be able to keep the boy safe.

Muller said he really wants people who are thinking about killing themselves to think about the impact that would have on their loved ones.

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While only Bennett is a boy scout, Boy Scouts Adventure West Council Troop 6051 recognized each of the boys at a ceremony Sept. 19 at First United Methodist Church in Gillette. Dover was able to attend the ceremony. Scoutmaster Garth Crowe Jr. named Kuenzel and Muller, who were unable to attend.

“Thank you, gentlemen,” Crowe said to Bennett and Dover at the ceremony. “We really appreciate what you guys did.”

Crowe said that if the four boys hadn’t been there to help, the young man would have died.

Bennett received the Certificate of Merit and Medal of Merit. The Boy Scouts Medal of Merit is awarded for “some outstanding act of service of a rare or exceptional character that reflects an uncommon degree of concern for the well-being of others” while the Certificate of Merit is presented to an individual who has “performed an act of service deserving of council recognition,” an Adventure West Council handout said.

Hayden Bennett received the Certificate of Merit from the Boy Scouts Adventure West Council. (Mary Stroka/County 17)

Tanya Bennett, Hayden’s mother, said that it meant a lot to her that the troop recognized each of the boys who helped save the boy’s life. The boys have all known each other for years, she said.

“I’m thrilled that they were able to get some recognition for it, mostly because they don’t think what they did was any big deal. … They don’t think it’s a big deal at all, and I still get emotional when I think about what they saw that night,” Tanya said.

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She said the boy whose life they saved has thanked the boys for saving his life.

Laura Jensen, Muller’s mom, said the boy whose life was saved has undergone treatment and is now living — and thriving — in another part of the country. Jensen said she and the boy’s family are grateful the boy was able to be rescued. Jensen said that anyone who needs help should reach out to a friend, a parent, a sibling.

And if that person isn’t helping, “go to the next person who loves you,” she said.

“There’s always someone to listen. There’s always someone who loves you. … Tomorrow’s always a new day. If tomorrow isn’t a good day, you know, the next day could be,” Jensen said. “We all have good and bad days. And sometimes things look really [vulgarity]. But, there are always people around you that love you. Always.”

Kuenzel was not available for an interview.

According to the CDC, suicide was the second most common cause of death among children aged 10 to 14 years old in 2020. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has listed warning signs and risk factors for suicide and approach recommendations for suicide-related crises here.

*Note: County 17 is not publicizing the name of the boy to respect his privacy.

Hayden Bennett received the Certificate of Merit from the Boy Scouts Adventure West Council. (Mary Stroka/County 17)
Mary Stroka is the Community Reporter for County 17. She's new to Wyoming and has loved getting to know the area. She covers crime, education, faith, government, and policy for County 17. Feel free to contact her at mary@county17.com with your news tips and ideas.