USM mourns the loss of three students

Sam Hill | The Free Press

Posted on February 27, 2014 in News
By Kirsten Sylvain

Sam Hill | The Free Press

University officials will hold two community gatherings Thursday for students, faculty, and staff following the deaths of three USM students that occurred in the past two weeks.

The news of the death of Brandon Hodges, a freshman on track to study engineering, was sent to students in a campus-wide email on Feb. 21. Hodges was a resident of Anderson Hall as a part of the “Student Entering Science and Engineering” residential community. Officials report that Hodges died unexpectedly at his home on Feb. 19. He was born in Farmington and attended school in Livermore Falls.

Students were also notified that junior English major Jordan Maroon died in a one-car accident around 4:30 a.m. on Feb. 21 in Winslow when Maroon’s car collided with a utility pole. The accident, officials said, in part appeared to have been caused by the slippery conditions of the road. He was born in Waterville and attended school in Winslow.

The USM community was informed of a third student death via an email from Executive Director of Student Life and Dean of Students Joy Pufhal, though the USM officials have yet to release the student’s name and cause of death.

Executive Director of Public Affairs Bob Caswell said that the Gorham Police Department confirmed that a student had died and reported that it occurred off-campus in Gorham. Caswell did not have additional information at the time.

“We’ve been trying to make contact with his immediate family and have been unable to do so at this point. With a student death, particularly one that occurs off campus, our process is to talk with members of the immediate family.” Caswell explained that the university policy is that they cannot release information about a student death without permission from the immediate family.

“Our focus right now is just making sure that students and other members of the campus have the services they need to cope with the loss,” he said.

Pufhal invited members of the USM community to attend the events. “It is times like these, when tragedies strike, that it is important for us to come together,” she said.

The first gathering will take place at noon at the Woodbury Campus Center in Portland. The second will be held at 7 p.m. in the presidential and faculty dining room in the Brooks Student Center in Gorham.