A Western student died this weekend in an accidental fall from the Canadian Pacific railway bridge near Oxford and Gunn streets.
According to the London Police Service, two men were walking along the bridge around 3:11 a.m. Saturday when one fell through the wooden slats of the bridge over Gunn Street. Though police have not released the identity of either man, the Gazette has confirmed through multiple sources that the victim was Gareth Coombes, 23, a second-year HBA student at the Richard Ivey School of Business.
Neither the identity of the other man, nor the reason they were on the tracks, is known.
“This death is very tragic, but also could have been avoided,” police said in a media release. “Police would like to remind the public that walking on, or along, railway tracks can be very dangerous, and it is also an offence under the Trespass to Property Act.”
Originally from Victoria, BC, Coombes studied social science at the University of Victoria before transferring to Ivey in 2011. He was set to graduate this spring.
Coombes had a strong impact on his classmates at Ivey.
“Gareth Coombes was the best example of someone who enjoyed every second of his life,” Stuart Berger, one of Coombes’ classmates at Ivey, said. “He spent his last summer in Africa touring the area and spoke about how it was a life changing experience. He told me he would sit down and tell me about it sometime, but we unfortunately never got the chance.”
“He was a fantastic and energetic member of the HBA community, and will be greatly missed. He lived his life to the absolute fullest, challenging every possible limit,” Shalyn Orange, HBA association vice-president communications, said.
On Monday, another classmate, Adam Tulloch, tweeted, “Heavy hearts all around @IveyBusiness today, mourning the loss of our classmate and friend Gareth Coombes. #IveyFamily #Section7Family”
In an official statement, Helen Connell, Western’s associate vice-president communications and public affairs, said students who were close to Coombes would be offered counseling through Western student services.
By all accounts, Coombes was an adventurer. He had posted pictures of wildlife and landscapes from all over the world on his Facebook profile, including scuba diving with sharks and cave exploring.
“He mentioned to me how the reason life goes by so fast is because we as humans adopt routine. He said to me his goal in life was to always try something different and avoid repetition in order to maximize the amount of time in life,” Berger said. “He was always trying something new. He was very down to earth and could be friends with everyone around him. We could all use more Gareths in our lives. He will be missed.”