1. Education

Eckerd College student who fell before graduation has died

Eckerd College student Rebecca Lavin-Burgher died on May 24, 2018, her 22nd birthday, after an accidental fall on campus, the school announced. []
Published May 25, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — An Eckerd College student who was critically injured last weekend during an accidental fall on campus shortly before she was to graduate died today, the school announced.

Rebecca Ryan "Becca" Lavin-Burgher would have graduated with a degree in sociology. She died on her 22nd birthday, Eckerd officials said.

"This tremendous loss so soon after commencement, when Becca and her family expected to celebrate her many accomplishments, is heartbreaking," Eckerd president Donald R. Eastman III said in a statement. "We must support each other, Becca's family and friends as we come to terms with this tragedy."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Eckerd College student critically injured in campus accident just before graduation

According to preliminary police reports, emergency crews were called to Eckerd's Bininger Theater at 5:27 a.m. Sunday. She reportedly fell from a ladder inside the building, police said. Eckerd's commencement took place a short time later, at 9 a.m. at Tropicana Field.

Lavin-Burgher came to Eckerd from Chicago, where she graduated from the Chicago Waldorf School, according to an email from the school's Center for Spiritual Life/Campus Ministries.

"While at Eckerd, she surrounded herself with a large and loving community of friends," the email said. "She is remembered as a travel enthusiast, a budding photographer, a dog lover, the first female DJ among the performers at the college's South Beach Field, and a generous spirit."

The email said she also was an organ donor, and that "her gifts will benefit numerous tissue and organ recipients."

Survivors include her parents, Rachel Lavin and Elaine Burgher (Suzanne Jerrett), her sister, Sarah and extended family.

Information on a memorial service was not yet available. The school urged Eckerd students who wished to avail themselves of support services to contact its Outreach Services office at


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