Dear UC Merced Community,
I am writing to provide you with an update on the incident
involving student Hector Barrera-Barraza over the weekend.
Though it has only been a few days since we received the
tragic news, in some ways it seems much longer. However, I’m
relieved to be able to say we have some new information, which came
to us this evening (March 19) from the Merced County Coroner’s
Office. Preliminary results from the autopsy conducted today
indicate that Hector died as the result of a fall, not from any
foul play. It also appears that he died where he fell.
The sheriff and coroner are expediting the completion of the
autopsy report and toxicology screening. We hope these further
results will bring us a more complete picture of the accident
sometime around the end of this week.
There are still questions to be answered about the
circumstances surrounding this incident. However, the UC Merced
Police Department will continue to investigate to try and ascertain
as many of the facts as we can. It is important that anyone with
information about Friday night and Saturday morning cooperate
completely, because we all want to have the correct information. It
is especially important for Hector’s family to know, as much as
possible, what happened to their son and brother. If you do have
information, please contact the UC Merced Police Department by
228-2677 [CAT COPS] or the anonymous tip line (209)
228-8477 [CAT TIPS].
I also have an update about the services being planned.
Hector will be memorialized at a campus ceremony tomorrow
afternoon, Tuesday, March 20. The planning is being finalized later
this evening by students, so the time and the location will be
confirmed in the morning.
Based on all that has been shared by people who knew Hector,
it is very obvious that although he had only joined our campus last
fall, he quickly became a beloved part of the community. We all
mourn his early passing. He will be missed.
I am proud of the way you as students, staff and faculty have
come together to support each other during this difficult time. I
believe that we will come through this tragedy with greater care
for each other and with a determination to honor Hector’s life and
potential by achieving our dreams and goals the way that he, as an
enthusiastic friend, would have wanted us to do - both personally,
and as a campus community.
With my deepest sympathy and concern,
Chancellor Steve Kang