Jan 30, 2014 12:04 PM
By Nick Dobis, News Web/Social Media Producer
California State University, Chico President Paul Zingg delivered a solemn message to students and staff in light of the deaths of 19-year-old Bryant Mata and 20-year-old Austin Silver. Mata and Silver died as a result of a suspected DUI crash on Bidwell Avenue on Sunday.
18-year-old Diego Arriaga-Rodriguez, the driver of the BMW, is still in critical condition at Enloe Medical Center as of this morning.
“Over the last few days…our campus, and in fact the larger Chico community, has been following the developments related to truly an unprecedented tragedy on our campus,” Zingg stated in a video posted to Chico State’s YouTube Channel yesterday.
“One of the most difficult things for any of us who have responsibility in matters like this is to meet with the parents,” said Zingg. “I meet with the parents of any of our students who are involved in tragedies of this sort, and as many of you know that’s not the first time this year.”
In this school year alone, five Chico State students have been killed. Last August a tree limb fell and eventually claimed the life of freshman Pa Hua Lor. A few weeks after her death, 19-year-old Kristina Chesterman was struck by a suspected drunk driver while riding her bike home on Nord Avenue. Chesterman was in a coma for a few days until she was declared brain dead and taken off life support.
James Lowder, a 19-year-old Chico State student, was also killed by a train near W. 7th Street last November.
Zingg reflected on how incredibly impressed he is in the strength of the parents and how important Chico State was to their children.
“Their children came here because they believed they were going to accomplish something very special here,” said Zingg. “The three young men I’m referring to here represent that completely. They have high hopes, dreams, and they and their parents expected they would succeed in our company. Two of those young men will not be going home from Chico State with a degree, but their parents leave us knowing their children made friends here [and] the high aspirations they brought here were on track.”
Zingg continued with reflecting on how the legacy of the deceased students will live on through the people they touched while they were students at the university, and how they will also live on and continue to have an impact with their donation of organs to those in need.
“They will live on because they will enable other people to see, and to breathe, and to have a life because of this physical gift of themselves,” said Zingg
Zingg thanked the University’s faculty, students, and the staff at Enloe Medical Center for everything they have done in order to comfort the friends and relatives of the students who have passed. Zingg indicated he and the University will continue to provide more information, particularly in regards to memorials in the student’s hometown and on campus.
“We need to keep ourselves mindful of the promise of these students and the promise of our University,” said Zingg. “It is a message that will strengthen their parents and so many more who will choose to come here for all the right reasons.”
Zingg ended his message by asking students to please take care of one another, to be wise in the choices they make, and to look after one another as they move into the spring semester.