At first, his family thought the Western sophomore had been studying for finals, but they grew increasingly worried when they didn't hear from him. By Tuesday, they had gone to Bellingham to report him missing; they also blanketed Bellingham with missing posters.
On June 7, 1995, the decomposed body of the student was found by a worker at the Georgia Pacific West lagoon during routine maintenance at about 10 a.m. The lagoon is used by the pulp mill for waste-water treatment.
The Seattle P-I reported at the time that "Whatcom County Medical Examiner Dr. Gary Goldfogel said no signs of foul play were evident. Grandstrom had no broken bones and no pre-existing medical conditions that would account for his death. Drowning and suffocation have not been ruled out. Toxicology tests could take two weeks."
The medical examiner later said that Grandstrom's blood-alcohol level was high.
Bellingham Police Lt. Rick Sucee said two fences with locked gates surrounded the plant and lagoon, and there was no evidence of forced entry. Succee has speculated that Grandstrom either climbed over the fences to reach the lagoon or entered through a breakwater area where there is no fence.
"It's dark water, it's foam, it's obviously an industrial facility with pipes all around it. We don't have any knowledge how something like this could happen," mill spokesman Orman Darby told the Seattle-PI in 1995.
On October 12, 2010, KOMO.com reported, "Peter [Grandstrom] said investigators told him his son, who was a sophomore at WWU, was drinking and likely wandered down to the water, where the toxic fumes killed him. There was no water in his lungs."
About Blair Grandstrom
Blair was "a kid with goals," Marlene Grandstrom, Blair's mother, told the Seattle P-I. "He had so much to live for, so much to give to the world," she said.
Grandstrom, a sophomore, was studying auto design technology. He had been a popular student in high school at Sammamish High School, where he graduated.
He planned to take a summer job with the Bellevue School District, where he usually worked during the summers either as a mechanic or maintaining school grounds.
Grandstrom is survived by his mother, who works as an assistant to the Bellevue School District director of research and evaluation; his father, Peter, a math teacher in the Renton School District; and a sister, Magan, a recent University of Washington graduate." (Source: Seattle-PI, June 9, 1995).
Funeral services were held at the Green Funeral Home in Bellevue.
Grandstrom's mother said at the time that a scholarship fund in her son's name would be offered through the Bellevue Association of Education Office Professionals.
Name/age: Blair Grandstrom, 20
Last seen: 6/3/95, Bellingham, WA
Recovered: 6/7/95, Georgia Pacific West wastewater treatment lagoon, Bellingham, WA
College: Western Washington University
Residence: Indian Street, Bellingham, WA
Published: 10/29/10. Last updated 01/10/13.