WVU student found dead in Australia
Published: Thursday, August 18, 2011
Updated: Thursday, August 18, 2011 23:08
A West Virginia University student died Monday evening in Australia while on a University sponsored international exchange program.
Emily Spickler, 19, planned to study journalism at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba in Queensland, Australia, through the school year.
She was found dead in her dorm room around 6:30 p.m. Reports have been issued that she was found in her dorm shower by friends, according to the Brisbane Times in Australia Tuesday.
An autopsy on Spickler determined she died from natural causes, Southern Queensland police said, according to the Brisbane Times.
Michael Lastinger, associate provost for WVU International Academic Affairs, said no student deaths have ever been recorded in the department's 20-some year existence.
"This one of those things that has never happened to us in an international program. This kind of accident could happen anywhere to anyone, and we regret profoundly that it happened to Emily while she was on an exchange program with one of our partners is Australia," Lastinger said.
"She was a bright, brilliant student, and one of the most charming presences on the WVU campus and the Southern Queensland campus."
Spickler was a dance minor, a part-time model and a sister of WVU's Alpha Omicron Pi.
She spent part of the summer interning at Los Angeles Magazine in Los Angeles, Calif., and acted as a staff writer for The Daily Athenaeum during her sophomore year.
"Students and colleagues at both universities are distraught. This happened, unfortunately, at a time when she was about to enjoy a year in a wonderful country amongst wonderful people, and that was cut short, along with her brief life," Lastinger said.
Becky Lofstead, assistant vice president for WVU Communications, said the University is saddened to see such a loss, and the Carruth Center will offer counseling sessions for Spickler's peers.
"Of course it is a concern when something like this happens to a student while on an exchange program. Thousands of students study abroad each year, whether it's for Spring Break or the prestigious year-long trip Emily was on," Lofstead said.
"Students have taken ill or gotten into an accident before, but there have been no deaths recalled in recent memory."
"Everyone is shocked and saddened to learn about her tragic passing," Lofstead said. "From WVU's standpoint, this is a horrific loss not only for us, but for Emilys' friends and family. She was a passionate young woman with her whole life ahead of her."