UNC student dies during finals week last semester
Published: Sunday, January 8, 2012
Updated: Monday, January 9, 2012 00:01
The UNC community suffered another loss as student Morgan Terrell died at approximately 1 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.
In an email sent to students at 8 a.m. on Dec. 3, Brad Shade, director of housing operations for Housing and Residential Education, confirmed Terrell had passed. Shade said it was not suspected foul play was involved.
University of Northern Colorado Police Department and Greeley Police Department officers were at Turner Green that morning roping off the area and keeping curious students at bay. The window of the 13th floor was open and officers and their flashlights were visible in the frame.
"As an entire campus we're grieving," said Nate Haas, the director of Media Relations at the University of Northern Colorado.
Terrell, a sophomore theater major and a resident of Turner Hall, reportedly broke through a fixed window, which cannot be otherwise opened, on the 13th floor of the residence hall and jumped early that morning, Haas said. The UNC Police Department received and responded to a call about the incident at approximately 12:40 a.m. Saturday.
Police attempted to resuscitate the student through CPR until paramedics arrived.
Gene Haffner, the public relations director at North Colorado Medical Center, confirmed Terrell was transferred to the hospital, but could not speak on the cause of death, as that information comes from the coroner's office.
By the afternoon, the caution tape around Turner was removed and the 13th-floor window was boarded shut.
Kirk Leichliter, the assistant vice president of Facilities Management, said the windows in multi-story buildings are not designed to be exits. The windows are also built not to fully open after a certain floor.
"In some (residence halls), it's above the fourth floor," Leichliter said. "Turner, Lawrenson, North and South (Halls) have limits. With Turner, that was the way it was built. The Lawrenson stops were put in later. North and South were built that way."
He said the windows were designed that way mainly to prevent injury. It is not clear how Terrell managed to break through the single-paned window.
"Occupants really like to be able to open the windows for fresh air but we don't want things to be thrown out of the windows or horseplay, so the stops limit that," Leichliter said. "Windows are actually also more energy efficient if they don't open. There is a balance between what occupants want and what we decide to do."
Haas said the campus community is encouraged to visit the Counseling Center about any issues they are facing during normal business hours of 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at Cassidy Hall. Counseling services are confidential and free and walk-in appointments are available. To contact the Counseling Center, call 970-351-2496.
If students need to talk to a counselor outside of the Counseling Center's business hours, Haas said they are welcome to call the UNC PD at 970-351-2245 to receive counseling services.
Terrell's life was remembered the same evening with a candlelight vigil accompanied by prayer.
More than 100 students participated in the vigil and huddled together for warmth and comfort in the below-freezing temperatures as Terrell's friends reflected on his character.
"Anybody that knew Morgan absolutely loved him. The kid was happy at all times," said Matt Scott, Terrell's roommate in Turner. "He had plans, a future — he had a way to go for his life. None of us had expected this, and it is hard for a lot of people."
Alex Curry, who organized the vigil on Facebook, said she wasn't expecting such a large turnout, and the attendees who didn't know Terrell attests to the University of Northern Colorado's ability to come together and show support. Curry also read from Isaiah 41:10.
"God is here tonight and he is loving on all of you," Curry said.
Kody Gast, Terrell's roommate in Belford Hall last year, said he was touched by the outpouring of support.
"It's tough. I lived with him for a year, so he basically became like a brother to me," Gast said. "It's hard, and I want to thank you for your support."
Sheldon Brown, a resident assistant in Turner, said he enjoyed watching Denver Broncos games with Terrell and that his enthusiasm would be missed.
"Now more than ever we need to be here for each other," Brown said. "Tragedies have happened in the past, but the one thing time and time again that always amazes me is how many people come and rally for somebody they may not even know, simply because they know someone that was affected by this. To the people that were affected by this, this means the world to them."
Scott offered words of comfort to those grieving over the loss of Terrell.
"None of you should feel sorry," he said. "Morgan hated it when people were sorry. You can feel sad, you can mourn, but don't be sorry."
Students then walked in unison to the University Center, where prayers were said and a moment of silence was given.
Terrell's death is the third of a UNC student in 2011. Freshman Ross Higuchi died April 19 after a fall from the roof of a fraternity house, and junior Alicia Lentz died on Sept. 14 of a brain aneurysm.
Editor's note – A version of this story originally appeared online at www.uncmirror.com on Dec. 3.