FGCU freshman from Trinity dies

Published Sept. 15, 2014

A Florida Gulf Coast University freshman found severely ill and "possibly intoxicated'' in his dorm room Sunday morning died later in a Lee County hospital.

A university spokeswoman identified the student as 19-year-old freshman Austin Vonckx, of Trinity.

The student was pronounced dead at Gulf Coast Hospital, south of Fort Myers, university spokeswoman Susan Evans said Sunday night.

"We're grieving the loss of a student and we offer our sympathy and any support we can provide to the family," Evans said.

Just after 4 a.m., the university's police department received a call that Lee County EMS had sent an ambulance to the dorm for a student in distress.

According to a campus police report, Vonckx was having trouble breathing and was "possibly intoxicated."

A university officer entered Vonckx's dorm and found him face up and unresponsive with his cellphone in his hand, the report said.

According to the report, the area of his face around his mouth was yellow and purple.

Lee County Emergency Medical Services was dispatched to Biscayne Hall in FGCU's South Village, where Vonckx lived. Vonckx was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, university officials said.

There are no indications of foul play, Evans said.

As a freshman, he would have first arrived on campus about a month ago.

FGCU's police department is conducting an investigation, she said.

"Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as they grieve this tragic loss," Evans said in an email.

Asked whether there would be an investigation into how the student got alcohol, if alcohol was involved, Evans said university police "will look into any aspects that may be related to his death, and it would be premature to discuss any specifics or make any speculation at this time while the investigation is under way."

She said the use of the term "possibly intoxicated" is indicated in the police report as what was relayed by EMS responders to FGCU police.

Campus police referred media inquiries to Evans, as have other university housing officials.

Evans said grief counselors would be on campus to be available for students.

"We heard he wasn't feeling good, called his mom, and she called the ambulance," FGCU freshman Rachel Matalon said. "It's a tragedy. Honestly, no one I know knew him."

The news was spreading around campus by evening, but some students said they thought it was just a rumor.

"I saw an ambulance around 4 or 5 this morning," freshman Alex Roscoe said. "People are just asking if someone died. They're starting to find out now it's a sure thing."