A few weeks ago, Christian Perry told other staff at King Middle School in Portland how much he thought Rachsombath “Rex” Rasmey would thrive in seventh grade. The 12-year-old’s teachers and peers loved him, Perry said, and he had a great year ahead of him.

But a few days after Rasmey’s sixth-grade year came to an end, he went into the Presumpscot River in Westbrook and never resurfaced. A Maine Warden Service diver found him hours later and he was pronounced dead. Westbrook police have not answered questions about why Rex was in the river that day and his family has declined to speak to a reporter.

King Middle School staff on Tuesday described the young man’s “infectious smile” and called him “a very charismatic kid” with a bright future.

“You couldn’t say no to him sometimes even if you wanted to,” said Perry, a track coach and culture and climate coordinator at the middle school. He said Rex will be remembered for the hugs he loved to share with his friends and teachers.

Perry said his days would always start with “a sprinkle of Rex” at school breakfast, where Rex stuffed his pockets with muffins and cinnamon buns. And in the afternoon, the boy often joined Perry and other students in his room for lunch.

Perry said the transition from elementary to middle school can be difficult for some students, but Rex advocated for himself when he needed a break, or wanted to make a connection with the adults at his school. Some middle schoolers thought talking with teachers wasn’t cool, Perry said, but Rex didn’t think so.


Rex always got along with his peers, Perry said, even when he’d spot them “fooling around.”

King Middle School Athletic Director John Williams remembered Rex as a little “mischievous” with a lot of energy.

“He was quiet and reserved, but when he got comfortable with you, he was hilarious,” he said.

Williams said one of Rex’s teachers encouraged him to join the track team. When he arrived a few minutes late to his first practice, Williams said he told Rex he owed him a mile for tardiness.

“The look on his face when I told him that he owes me a mile was one of the funniest things ever,” Williams said.

Although slightly frustrated, Rex came back with a smile and no complaints, Williams said.


“He was just a big motivation for us as coaches to see a kid like him with that big of a smile and that big of a heart,” he said.

When Rex was working on a school project, he interviewed Marpheen Chann, the executive director of the nonprofit Cambodian community organization Khmer Maine.

“I was reminded why I do the work I do – for kids like Rex who want to see themselves reflected in their leaders,” Chann said in a statement. “I’m truly saddened by his passing.”

Chann said the community is grieving Rex’s death.

A statement from Portland Public Schools said Rex’s “smile, sense of humor and positive energy will be deeply missed.”

“We will remember Rex for the joy he brought into our lives and the positive impact he had on our school community,” the message reads.

The school also opened up counseling on Monday for any students affected by his death.

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