‘Totally heartbreaking’: Classmates mourning loss of teen mauled to death by dogs in Dighton

DIGHTON, MASS. (WHDH) - High school students returned to class with heavy hearts Monday after authorities say their 14-year-old classmate was mauled to death by dogs in Dighton last week.

Dighton police officers responding to a report of a deceased male at 2577 Maple Swamp Road about 8 p.m. Thursday spoke with a neighbor who found Ryan Hazel, of Rehoboth, dead from multiple traumatic injuries.

Hazel’s grandmother told police she dropped him off to tend to the animals earlier in the night and called his parents when he failed to return to her car in a timely manner, Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said during a news conference on Friday.

His parents then called a neighbor, who responded to the home and found Hazel dead.

Hazel’s friend Shaun Conklin told 7News that Hazel was an animal lover.

“He would go over there and clean the kennels, feed them, take care of them,” he said.

Hazel was a freshman at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School, where many students found out about the tragedy in class Friday.

“It’s the worst thing ever,” one friend said. “No one can believe it.”

“It’s totally heartbreaking,” another added.

Classmate Emily Tripp says that she doesn’t “even know how to process it because it’s not something you’d think would happen around here, especially someone so young.”

Now, his classmates are trying to find ways to honor the teen they say could make anyone feel important, loved to play football and dreamed of going to the NFL or becoming a doctor.

“We’re trying to start things, make bracelets, shirts. You know, it’s just, it’s random,” Conklin said. “He’s been working with the dogs over a year. He was such a great kid.”

Quinn, who called the incident a “terrible tragedy” for Hazel’s friends, families, and the town, said the four dogs who were found in the backyard with Hazel were quarantined along with seven dogs that were caged at the house.

The four dogs in the backyard were Dutch Shepherds and Belgian Malinois.

The owner of the property, Scott Dunmore, has been cooperating with investigators and foul play is not suspected.

The incident remains under investigation.

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