A Notre Dame death left students and faculty stunned at the prestigious University of Notre Dame in Indiana. The death comes one day before graduation ceremonies. According to a Notre Dame release, a 21-year-old senior from Colorado gained access to the curved roof of the Joyce Arena athletic building, slipped, and fell to his death.
Reports ABC News: “William Meckling, 21, was set to graduate Sunday, according to a news release from the university. A Notre Dame Security Police official found Meckling unresponsive on the ground next to the Joyce Center – an athletic building that houses the Notre Dame basketball arena – at about 4 a.m. Saturday.”
Notre Dame’s website carried a news release, which stated in part: “A Notre Dame Security Police lieutenant, on patrol near the center at 3:45 a.m., was approached by two students who said they needed his assistance. Upon reaching the east side of the Joyce Center, the officer observed Meckling, unresponsive, on the ground near Gate 7. Emergency medical personnel also responded. CPR and other efforts to resuscitate him were unavailing. Initial investigation indicates that the victim was among a small group of students who had gained access to the roof, wet from precipitation, at a relatively low point from outside the building. No others sustained injuries.”
University president Rev. John I. Jenkins said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Billy’s family and friends after this terrible tragedy. It is a profound sadness for all of us, on this graduation weekend, to lose someone so young and brimming with promise.”
Meckling was on the fencing team and was a mechanical engineering major. His fencing coach, Gia Kvaratskhelia, said Meckling “left such a massive impact on all of us as a fencer and a human being.”
“He was a great friend to all members of our program,” Kvaratskhelia continued. “A true Notre Dame man, his kindness and warmth impacted each and every one of us — and makes his loss all the more difficult.”
Inside the Notre Dame Grotto of our Lady Lourdes, votive candles were set up on a stand to spell the word “Billy.”
“It does kind of put a damper on this weekend, and that’s one of the reasons I came to the Grotto, just to say a prayer for the family and friends, and the community as a whole,” said Andrew Smith, a senior who is set to graduate today.
Dan Walsh, a father who has a son enrolled at Notre Dame, heard the news that a student fell from the roof. He texted his son, and then was relieved when he texted back.
“There are those momentary lapses of judgment, things that we regret, and we realize we’re lucky that we’re still here,” Walsh said. “I’m just like any other parent. I would not want what happened, to happen to my own son, and I would not wish that kind of tragedy on anyone… I can’t imagine what the parents are going through.”
Karen Wisniewski, another graduating senior, said that Meckling’s tragic death will unite the student body. “I think it’s really going to bring people together,” she said. “Even if it’s not someone you know, there’s a sense of sadness.”
Deputy St. Joseph County Coroner Chuck Hurley said an official autopsy will be done and the cause of death will be released next week.