Students Hold Vigil For Purdue Student In Fatal Balcony Fall

Dozens Gathered Near IUPUI Campus To Honor Xavier Somerville

Dozens of students, family and friends gathered Monday night for a candlelight vigil in honor of Xavier Somerville, the Purdue University freshman who died after falling from a fifth-story balcony near the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Witnesses said Somerville was at a party at The Avenue apartments when police showed up to investigate a noise complaint.

According to a report from the Indianapolis Metro Police Department, Somerville was alarmed and tried to escape the apartment by swinging from the fifth floor balcony to a fourth floor balcony. He lost his grip and fell to ground. He was rushed to Wishard Memorial Hospital in critical condition where he later died, police said.

Somerville’s friends said they do not want him to be remembered by how he died, but how he lived to help others, RTV6’s Kara Kenney reported.

"He was a genuine person," said Sahar Habibi, a longtime friend of Somerville. "Everyone loved him and he loved everyone."

His friends described the Lawrence Central graduate as outgoing, athletic and happy.

"He touched a lot of people," said Connor Nash, who has been friends with Somerville since 2nd grade. "He was the most selfless person I've ever met."

"(He was a) fantastic individual," said Clayton LaBarr, a longtime friend. "The most energetic and alive person I've ever met. It would rub off on anyone he was with."

Somerrville was a freshman at Purdue University, and had just received a bid to pledge Sigma Chi Fraternity.

"We lost a great person and a great future brother," said Sigma Chi President Mark Back. "He was one of the most impressive freshmen we met this year during the process and he was well respected and liked by our chapter."

Purdue University spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg released a statement to RTV6 following Somerville’s death.

“Our hearts go out to Xavier's family and friends," Norberg said. "A promising future has been cut short, (and this is) a tragedy for all of us. Purdue counselors are reaching out to his friends and classmates."

Police said five people at the apartment were cited for underage drinking. Benjamen Trester, 22, was cited for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Across the state, Indiana State Excise Police are cracking down on underage drinking on college campuses. Over the weekend, excise officers made more than 200 arrests on Indiana college campuses.

"We want to change behavior. We don't want to issue more tickets, we want to change behaviors. But if it takes issuing tickets in order to impact that behavior, then that's what we're going to do," said Excise spokesman Travis Thickstun.

LaBarr forwarded a message he said he received from Somerville's parents.

"His parents wanted to pass along the message to learn from our mistakes and to correct them, the little things we do, so stuff like this doesn't happen again," LaBarr said.

At the vigil, students and friends committed to living better lives in memory of Somerville.

"He changed my life and made me a better person, just by being around him all the time," Nash said.

"Xavier would want for all of us to be happy," said Habibi. "We've just got to pull through this. Xavier will still be with us at all times."

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