UMaine reacts to student deaths | News

Title (Max 100 Characters)

UMaine reacts to student deaths

ORONO, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- The University of Maine campus is mourning the death of three of their own. On Friday two current students and one recent graduate were killed in a single engine plane crash in Owls Head. The three victims are remembered not only by their fellow Black Bears, but also by their fraternity.

Dr. Robert Dana the Dean of Students with the University of Maine cannot recall the last time the school had to mourn the loss of three students at once, "The death of a student is always completely unexpected...the death of three students is catastrophic in so many ways it's difficult to describe."

The victims were 22-year old David Cheney of Beverly, Massachusetts and 24-year old Marcelo Rugini, a foreign exchange student from Brazil, they were both current students at the university.  The third victim, 24-year old William "B.J." Hannigan III of South Portland had just graduated from U-Maine in 2011.

Dana said, "They were involved in their fraternity, they were well loved. They were well-loved in their academic homes. They had, probably saying thousands of friends would not be an underestimation."

The loss hit their fraternity house hard. They have asked for privacy while they deal with the situation. Barricades and campus police block the driveway to the Lambda Chi house in hopes to deflect attention and questions.

"They are emotional, they are fragile, but they are trying to be stoic. They've been mature, responsive, and trying to take care of the families. Trying to take care of friends and trying to take care of themselves. They are doing a remarkable job," said Dana.

Lambda Chi Alpha's Executive Vice President, Bill Farkas, released this statement:

"The loss of any Lambda Chi Alpha member cuts at the Fraternity's core and is felt far and wide throughout our brotherhood. We will continue to work with the alumni members and university officials to assist the chapter through this tough and unprecedented tragedy. We ask that your thoughts and prayers go out to the chapter members, their families, and the entire University of Maine community."

The fraternity held a private memorial service Saturday evening. According to Dana, they plan on holding a larger memorial service after Thanksgiving break.

The University of Maine is offering counseling to any student affected by the event. Interested students can contact the UMaine Counseling Center, 581-1392. Faculty and staff in need of similar counseling can contact the Employee Assistance Program, 581-4014.