Western student dies in Nicaragua

Friday, April 24, 2009

A 37-year-old father of six and student from the Faculty of Education at The University of Western Ontario has died in Nicaragua. Darren Davis, of Mount Pleasant, Ontario drowned April 22 while in that country on a Western service-learning experience.

Davis had volunteered with a church organization based in Guelph that was helping to paint a local school. Hundreds of teacher-candidates are on serviced-based learning this week from the faculty.

Davis’ family was informed that he drowned while with a group of other volunteers. One of the volunteers said there was some unexpected free time and several persons decided to go to a beach a couple of hours away from the town where they were volunteering.

On Monday, April 27, Campus Community Police Service Director Elgin Austen, who spoke with another Western student who was also in Nicaragua volunteering, said Davis was pulled under water by an undertow.

He was brought to shore and CPR was administered. Austen said the other four Canadians on the trip, three of whom were also Western students, took Davis to a local medical clinic but he could not be revived.

“The faculty is devastated by the loss and heartbroken for Darren’s family”, said Dean of Education Julia O’Sullivan. “He was an A student who was liked and respected by his students in the practice teaching sessions. One of his professors told me that Darren will be remembered as ‘a real decent man’ - the kind of guy that a parent would say, yes, I want my child in his class.”

O’Sullivan said she is sure Davis would have made a wonderful teacher, and that because he has completed the requirements, he will receive is diploma posthumously this June.

Davis is survived by his wife Tracy-Lynn Davis and six children. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

Faculty of Education Alumni & Development Officer Patricia McLaughlin said the faculty plans to acknowledge Davis’ participation in the program during the annual end-of-year gathering for graduating students held on Thursday, April 30. A picture of Davis will be in the lobby and a book, which will be given to his family, will be available for students, faculty and staff to sign.