Portage community mourns the loss of PC student Dante Latora


The Portage Central High School community is mourning the loss of one of their students today. Staff and students found out yesterday that Dante Latora (12) was killed in a car accident in Virginia on Wednesday evening. Latora, an accomplished wrestler, was in Virginia for a national wrestling tournament.

Support poured out from the community for the students and teachers at Portage Central. Counselors and staff from other schools in the district, administrators and others from central administration, counselors from Mattawan schools, and community pastors, professional counselors, and parents all volunteered their time to help grieving students.  “We are so blessed,” Principal Eric Alburtus said, “to have so much help available for students to talk through pain and emotions. We would not be able to serve the needs of all of our kids without help from throughout the county.”

According to Virginia State Police, Latora’s car was travelling on Interstate 95 south in Hanover when his car left the road, hit a sign, and then struck a tree around 12 am. Preliminary reports indicate that he was wearing a seatbelt and that speed may have been a factor in the crash.

Latora was an elite wrestler who was well-known in the area. “He was a great wrestler,” said Rob Fries (10). PNHS wrestling coach Chris Furlong also recognized his talent, saying, “He was an excellent wrestler with a tremendous passion for the sport.” Furlong held a lunch meeting with the wrestling team on Thursday to break the news to them and also to make arrangements for the team to attend the funeral together to show support for the PC wrestling program.

The Latora family also has deep ties within the Portage community.  Dante’s older brothers were both well-known wrestlers and his father, Tony, was also a well-known wrestler and coach.  Dante’s grandfather, Carl Latora, was a teacher and longtime athletic director at Portage Northern.

Visitation will be at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, 1150 W. Centre Avenue, Portage, MI 49024 on Tuesday, March 28th, from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Funeral Mass will be on Wednesday, March 29th at 12 p.m. with visitation from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, a scholarship fund is being established in Dante’s name. Details will be available at the visitation. To sign the on the online guest book or leave a message for the family, visit Dante’s personalized web page hosted by Langland’s Funeral Home.