Recent UCF student deaths, accidents all too familiar
A student collapses suddenly in class. Another dies driving along the highway. One goes missing.
February has been a grim month for UCF, and I can’t help feeling we’ve been here before.
College news has a way of repeating itself, although often in the form of another Spirit Splash or SGA election. Very rarely do I find myself thinking “not again” when news breaks. I mean, our community hardly bats any eye at a Marquee shooting these days.
But the “not again” mentality sits with me as I put together this column, for it was just a few short months ago I wrote the same thing for Chloe Arenas, Michael Namey and Robert Bosso, who died in 2015.
When Alexander Osorio went missing Feb. 7, I thought of Mikanzis Spinella, another student who went missing in September. He was found safe at an Orlando hospital, although the last time the Future spoke to his mother, he had yet to open up about what exactly had happened.
I thought to myself, “Alexander will show up. They’ll track his cellphone; someone will see him.” Instead, he died two days before his 20th birthday. His mother hasn’t felt up to talking just yet.
Then, this past week, a student collapsed and suffered a seizure in the Business Administration building. That’s about all we know at this point. We don’t even know his name.
But the vague details can’t help but remind me of Michael Namey, who collapsed in class in September. Michael later died due to what was determined an enlarged heart. All we know about the student who collapsed in BA2 on Feb. 16 is that he was transported to Florida Hospital. I can only hope he’s since been transported home and can return to class soon.
The next day, Maxine Bartkovich died in a four-car crash on I-4, and I couldn't help but think of Chloe Arenas, who drowned after losing control of her car on 408.
It felt unreal, to lose two students so close together.
I can count on both hands the number of student deaths I’ve covered with the Future, from Brooke Dawkins to Steven Sotloff. I feel like I know them, but I don’t. I never will.
You see, when I first started at the Future, I had that newborn lust for breaking news. Then, I had the desire to tell the stories of the students our university lost. But now, I’m starting to learn we can never know their stories, not really. We can interview their families and friends, follow the causes that crop up after their deaths and attend their memorial services, but we’ll never know them.
Covering death at a college paper is harder than at most papers, I think, because you’re covering a life that never was, that had hardly gotten off the ground. Maxine was 22; Alexander was only 19.
Then again, death at a college like UCF means 60,000 Knights to get us through.
It’s a feeling, deep down, knowing you’re a Knight. It’s the feeling we get when Blake Bortles makes a touchdown for the Jags; it’s the feeling we get when we walk by the Reflecting Pond; and it’s the feeling we get when one of our own is taken.
An invitation to celebrate the life of Maxine included a line that’s really stuck with me:
“This is a hard time for everyone, but it’s easier together.”
Caroline Glenn is the Content Manager for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter @bycarolineglenn or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.