Notre Dame mourns death of senior

by Paul Browne

Notre Dame blue seal

UPDATE: William Meckling, a 21-year-old senior due to graduate Sunday from the University of Notre Dame, died early Saturday morning (May 16) after a fall from the roof of the Joyce Center.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Billy’s family and friends after this terrible tragedy,” Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the University president, said. “It is a profound sadness for all of us, on this graduation weekend, to lose someone so young and brimming with promise.”

A Notre Dame Security Police lieutenant, on patrol near the center at 3:45 a.m., was approached by two students who said they needed his assistance. Upon reaching the east side of the Joyce Center, the officer observed Meckling, unresponsive, on the ground near Gate 7. Emergency medical personnel also responded. CPR and other efforts to resuscitate him were unavailing.

Initial investigation indicates that the victim was among a small group of students who had gained access to the roof, wet from precipitation, at a relatively low point from outside the building. No others sustained injuries.

Meckling was transported by ambulance to Saint Joseph’s Regional Medical Center. The county coroner will determine the cause of death.

A mechanical engineering major, Meckling was from Centennial, Colorado, and was a member of the Notre Dame fencing team.

“When one thinks of the success of Notre Dame fencing, names like Gerek Meinhardt and Lee Kiefer come to mind,” head fencing coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said. “Yet equally integral to our team success are the unsung names, the walk-ons that bring the positive spirit, energy and camaraderie to our practices and competitions to push their teammates and themselves to greater heights. Billy Meckling was one of those teammates — an invaluable member of our sabre squad who left such a massive impact on all of us as a fencer and a human being.

“On the strip, Billy was a talented fencer and a determined worker on a very competitive sabre squad — evidenced by his earned monograms during the 2012 and 2014 seasons. More importantly, he was a great friend to all members of our program. A true Notre Dame man, his kindness and warmth impacted each and every one of us — and makes his loss all the more difficult.”

The University Counseling Center and Campus Ministry are available to offer their support to members of the Notre Dame community.

A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. Monday (May 18) in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Father Jenkins will preside and Rev. Pete McCormick, C.S.C., director of Campus Ministry, will be the homilist.