Over 100 students gathered on the Bates football field on Monday in honor of junior John Durkin, who died while studying abroad in Rome on a program sponsored by Trinity. According to South Portland’s WGME-TV, the private vigil was followed by a remembrance inside an academic building to commemorate the 21-year-old economics major from Rye, N.H.
Durkin went missing early in the morning on Thursday, February 20 and was found dead two days later.
According to a CBS article, he was found by police in a train tunnel in central Rome early that Thursday morning but his identity was not released until Saturday morning, when Trinity College Rome campus officials identified Durkin as the victim after family members identified the body.
Durkin was last seen around 1:30 a.m. on Thursday morning. After going to the bar Sloppy Sam’s in the Campo de’ Fiori area of Rome with friends, Durkin left alone and never returned home.
Word of his disappearance first hit Bowdoin through social media, when his cousin and Bowdoin alum, Brian Durkin ’13, launched the Facebook event “Missing Person—John Durkin.”By the time of publication, 11,399 people were listed as “Attending.” There was also a Twitter account (@JDurkinMissing) with 1,088 followers created for the same purpose. Durkin did not respond to the Orient’s calls for comment.
“This is a time of deep sadness for our community and for so many people who knew and loved John,” said Bates President Clayton Spencer in an announcement on the Bates website. “We are profoundly sad and share the tremendous grief of his family.”
Durkin played middle linebacker for the Bates Bobcats and will be greatly missed by his teammates and coach.
“We will remember the fortitude and character that John displayed on a daily basis and attempt to emulate those standards,” said Mark Harriman, Bates head football coach, in the college’s online release.
There are currently three Bowdoin students studying abroad with the same program through Trinity and two other students in Rome on different programs. None of the three students on the Trinity program were available for comment.
The Office of Off-Campus Study has reached out to these students and encouraged them to seek support if they need it, from their program or from students on campus.
“Trinity College Rome has been very forthcoming with indicating what they’re doing in terms of on-site support,” said Christine Wintersteen, director of international programs and off-campus study. “They held some community gatherings over the weekend and there was a memorial service on Wednesday.”
The Bates Office of Off-Campus Study was unable for comment.
Durkin’s death is the second the Bates football team has seen in the last 18 months. Last September, first year Troy Pappas died after a fall from a third-story dormitory stairwell.