Emotions were high on campus yesterday as news spread that Nicholas E. Leonetti, a 23-year-old freshman, died Tuesday night after falling from the sky bridge connecting the University Services Building and the School of Business Administration.
The cause of Leonetti’s fall is still unconfirmed, although police reports indicate the incident is being investigated as a suicide.
In a statement given to Campus Public Safety officers, Joshua Klein, who was walking on the sky bridge at the time of the incident, observed Leonetti “towards the other end of the sky bridge by himself looking over the ledge.”
Klein’s attention shifted momentarily to two other people and when he looked back, “about three seconds after my first look,” he said, Klein witnessed Leonetti’s fall.
Leonetti was taken to Legacy Emmanuel Hospital, known for its state-of-the-art trauma center, at approximately noon on Tuesday after emergency response teams worked to stabilize him at the scene.
At Emmanuel, doctors performed at least two surgeries to address Leonetti’s wounds, according to police reports. Leonetti was in the intensive care unit Tuesday evening but his condition did not stabilize and he died later that night.
On campus, the official reaction has been swift and aimed at getting help to those who need it. Portland State President Daniel Bernstine sent out an e-mail address yesterday morning, reminding community members “that counseling services are always available to students, faculty and staff.”
Counseling and Psychological Services have also extended themselves to students by visiting classes or offices and working off hours to address individuals in need.
Sukhwant Jhaj, an assistant professor in the University Studies department, taught Leonetti since fall term in his Cyborg Millennium freshman inquiry course. “He was thoughtful and sensitive,” Jhaj said. “I am just really saddened by this.”
“He was a fine student, long on personality and charm,” John Hall, professor of economics, said.
Hall taught Leonetti for both fall and winter terms and was quite fond of him. “He sat in the front row,” he said. “We spoke often.”
Leonetti is remembered by those who knew him as thoughtful and kind, a passionate and eager student.
“He came to me during my office hours,” Jhaj said. “Nobody comes to office hours.”
Both Jhaj and Hall remarked that Leonetti was an “above-average” student, intelligent and warm.
“He was the kind of person that sends thank you notes – he wrote me a thank you note,” Jhaj said.
Leonetti’s family will hold a public memorial service on Friday, May 9 at 1 p.m. at the Meadow Springs Community Church in Portland (see information box for details).
Campus Ministries, along with other campus organizations including student affairs, human resources and ASPSU, is also planning a service to honor Leonetti’s life.
“It will give people an opportunity to grieve,” said Elizabeth Winslea, campus pastor.
The groups are meeting today and Friday to plan the gathering and hope to hold it some time next week.
Campus counseling resources
Students: Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
SMSU 3rd Floor Mezzanine
Monday – Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Fridays 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Faculty and staff: Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
For information call 800-523-5668
Meadow Springs Community Church
12647 S.W. 62nd Ave.
Portland, OR 97219