The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Diabetes may have played role in McGrath’s death

Karen Langley and Marcela Berrios | Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Diabetes may have factored in Connor McGrath’s death this weekend, police investigators said Monday.

An autopsy was scheduled for Monday afternoon, but The Observer was unable to contact other officials in the St. Joseph County coroner’s office.

McGrath, a sophomore from Oklahoma City, died Sunday in Dillon Hall. He was 20 years old.

McGrath died in the residence hall, where he spent the night with friends. He was a resident of Siegfried Hall this semester but had lived in Dillon during his freshman year and had attended the University of Central Oklahoma this past fall.

Friends discovered his body at approximately 1:40 p.m., University officials said Monday. A South Bend Fire Department ambulance responded at 1:53 p.m., a spokesperson from the fire department said.

Father Peter McCormick, the rector of Keough Hall and former assistant rector in Dillon, called McGrath a “very personable, very social young man.”

“If you were to say one thing about Connor, it would have to be that he loved people,” said McCormick, who lived next door to McGrath during his freshman year.

He said most of Dillon’s sophomore residents knew McGrath because he was easygoing and willing to strike up a conversation with anyone.

McCormick said that when he first met McGrath, during the student’s freshman year, McGrath was like other freshmen going through a coming-of-age period.

“He was in the process of trying to find out what it means to be an adult in this world, amidst successes and failures,” McCormick said.

That included learning to deal with his diabetes, McCormick said.

McGrath last visited McCormick in Keough at the beginning of the spring semester to “chat and catch up and see how things were going.”

Several Dillon residents declined to comment Monday. McGrath’s closest friends from Dillon had left for Chicago to mourn his death in privacy.

McGrath moved into Siegfried in January but spent many nights at Dillon, Siegfried Hall rector Father John Conley said. As a result, Conley said, he and many Siegfried residents didn’t have many opportunities to get to know McGrath in the five weeks he spent in the hall.

But that didn’t stop students in Siegfried from placing a basket of cards in the lobby, encouraging residents to write words of encouragement for McGrath’s family.

“It’s like I told the guys at Mass [Sunday]: ‘He was a Siegfried guy. It doesn’t matter if you lived in this dorm four days or four weeks or four years. This was his home,'” Conley said.

University officials said Monday they believed McGrath was the first student to die on campus since Feb. 8, 1998, when Justin Brumbaugh, a senior from Bolingbrook, Ill., died after suffering from a heart disease.

McGrath intended to major in business at Notre Dame.

A memorial Mass for McGrath and Timothy Aher, a second-year law student who died in an unrelated incident Sunday, will be celebrated Tuesday at 10 p.m. in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

University President Father John Jenkins will preside over the Mass. Father Mark Poorman, University vice president for student affairs, will deliver the homily, and McCormick will offer words of remembrance for McGrath.