RU community mourns tragic loss of student

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Travis Handy

On Tuesday, March 15, Vice President for Student Affairs Mark Shanley notified the Radford University community of the passing of Patrick M. Dovell, 19, of Richmond, Va. This is the third loss of a student that RU has experienced during this academic year.

The announcement of Dovell’s passing was made via an RU-announce. Dovell was a first-year art major focusing in graphic design. He is described as “a well-regarded student with considerable drawing ability.”

According to news reports, Dovell was traveling south on I-81 in Rockbridge County, about two miles north of the Natural Bridge exit. Dovell’s vehicle veered off the left side of the south-bound lane, struck several trees and overturned around 8:40 p.m. on Sunday, March 13. Dovell reportedly died at the scene.

Police said Dovell was wearing his seat belt. The crash was still under investigation at the time of print.

The university’s announcement said other students described Dovell as “a charismatic young man who was helpful to others and lit up the room whenever he walked in.”

Gabriella Smith, one of Dovell’s instructors, said Dovell was attentive and had a quiet manner in her 90-student sociology class.

“While he didn’t speak up much in class (which isn’t unusual given the [class] size), whenever I looked out into the sea of students I always saw his bright and attentive face looking back,” Smith said via email. “He was a talented student with a real ability to quickly grasp diverse material, and it was obvious he possessed a keen intelligence and a dedicated attitude when it came to his studies.”

Smith commented that Dovell’s passing “leaves an indelible hole” in the RU community. “My heart goes out to his friends and family,” Smith said.

According to an obituary from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dovell is survived by his parents, Barbara and Wayne Dovell, and a brother, Brian Dovell, all of Richmond, Va. The family received friends the evening of Wednesday, March 16 and funeral services were held the following day at 2 p.m. in the Mausoleum Chapel at Westhampton Memorial Park in Richmond.

The university encouraged students and faculty having a hard time dealing with such a tragedy to utilize resources such as Student Counseling Services or the Department of Human Resources.

RU’s student body has dealt with two other losses during the 2010-11 academic year. In October, sophomore Sam Mason was found dead of alcohol poisoning, and in January, during winter break, students were notified of the passing of Matthew Special, a senior Computer Science major.

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