Bates College student gone missing on school trip to Rome is found dead, according to family and college

Bates College student John Durkin recently went missing in Rome.
Bates College student John Durkin recently went missing in Rome. –AP/Bates College

RYE, N.H. — John Durkin, a 21-year-old Bates College junior who was reported missing while on a study-abroad trip to Rome, has been found dead, according to a family member and the college.

In a posting on a Facebook event page set up by Durkin’s family, a relative wrote, “It is with much sadness that the Durkin family informs you of the loss of John Nolen Durkin and thanks everyone for their support during the past few days.’’

Statements by the family and Bates College did not divulge the circumstances of Durkin’s death, but Italian Railway Police posted a statement online saying a 21-year-old US citizen had been struck and killed by a train. Officers discovered the body in a tunnel between St. Peter’s and Trastevere stations and are investigating the death, the statement said, adding that family members of the man had identified the body. The statement did not name the victim.


Durkin, an economics major and football player at Bates, was last seen Wednesday by friends at an American bar in Rome called Sloppy Sam’s, according to the Facebook page.

“This is a time of deep sadness for our community and for so many people who knew and loved John,’’ Bates College President Clayton Spencer said in a posting on the college’s news website. “We are profoundly sad and share the tremendous grief of his family.’’

A spokesman for the US State Department confirmed Durkin’s death, and said the US Embassy was providing consular assistance to the Durkin family.

Durkin, a native of Rye Beach, N.H., was a linebacker on the Bates football team and was studying economics at the college in Lewiston, Maine.

Durkin was remembered in prayer during an afternoon Mass at St. Theresa Church in Rye, a town of just over 5,000 on the New Hampshire coast.

“Is with deep sadness that we add to the names of the deceased the name of John Durkin,’’ said the Rev. Maurice D. Lavigne, noting that his family are members of the parish and live just down the street. “On behalf of our parish, we sent to them our deepest sympathy. … I ask you to please pray for his family.’’


Parishioners declined to speak with reporters after the Mass, citing the family’s wish for privacy.

Down the road at the Durkins’ home, a historic three-story residence built in 1779, family members and friends came and went, paying their respects.

The trip to Rome involved 55 students and included five other Bates students. It was organized through Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., according to the college.

A spokeswoman for Trinity said the school’s president, James F. Jones, Jr. had extended his sympathies to Durkin’s family and to Bates.

“John’s death appears to have been an isolated incident,’’ spokeswoman Michele Jacklin wrote in a press release. “Trinity is doing everything possible to help the students in Rome during this time of duress, including making counseling available to any student who desires it.’’

In the Bates College posting, Durkin’s football coach said the 21-year-old was a key part of team.

“The Bates football family is deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and teammate John Durkin,’’ Mark Harriman said. “John’s commitment to excellence in all phases of his life was inspirational to the other members of the squad and a major factor in the team’s success over the past three years.’’

Messages and e-mails for the family and a spokeswoman for Bates College were not immediately returned.

Bates College said in a statement its students were currently away on winter break, but that a memorial gathering where students could share remembrances and reflections would take place Monday at 4:30 p.m.


Students returning from break were invited to meet with deans and chaplains between tonight and Sunday at Frank’s Lounge on campus.

New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan wrote on Twitter, “Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of John Durkin. Thoughts & prayers are with his parents, friends and loved ones in this difficult time.’’


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