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Bizarre tragedy hits Bishop's
By Jamie Lynn
In the middle of winter exams, when most students were preparing to head home for the holidays, a bizarre tragedy struck Bishop's University in Laval, Quebec.
Bruce Stevenson, director of public relations and alumni affairs for Bishop's, said that on Dec. 13 at 9:45 a.m., first-year student Kevin Mackle from Etobicoke, Ontario was found underneath an overturned pop machine in the first floor stairwell of Kuehner Hall, a student residence.
Stevenson said there were no witnesses and Mackle was pronounced dead on the scene.
"It was a tragic accident," Stevenson said.
He explained as a result of the accident, all free-standing vending machines have been removed from the university. While he claimed the machines are safe and the weight of the machine is enough to stop the machine from falling, the university is taking these precautions anyway. "They weigh over 1,000 pounds [when full] but they are very top heavy. Once the machines are tipped past 20 degrees, there is no stopping them."
Arash Madani, a residence advisor for Kuehner Hall, lived on the same floor and was a close friend of Mackle. "A bunch of us found him on Sunday morning," Madani said. "It was brutal. It was terrible. It just felt surreal. The question of why and how is what everyone asks each other everyday."
Since Bishop's has such a small student population and because Kuehner Hall has just 88 students living in it, Madani pointed out it is particularly hard for everyone. "The whole university is in shock right now. It's like a member of the community died," he said.
At Bishop's, Mackle was a dedicated sports writer for the student newspaper as well as a DJ at the campus radio station. "Kevin was such a great guy," Madani said. "He was always a guy to lend a helping hand."
Dennis Logan, chief operating officer for Beaver Foods Limited, the company which supplied the Coke machine, said this is an issue of great concern for his company. "We've been co-operating fully with the officials investigating the accident," Logan said. "Like everyone else, we're waiting for an official explanation."
Logan said without an official statement from both the police and the coroner's office, he cannot comment on what caused the accident.
However, David Orriss, president of London Vending Services Ltd., said the only way a machine can fall over is through misuse or attempted theft. "This machine would not jump out and get someone any more than a car without a driver would drive over someone."
Orriss pointed out some older pop machines give out free drinks when tipped and some people still believe this to be the case. He said simply shaking the machine could not have caused this sort of result.
According to Madani, a memorial service is being held at Bishop's for Mackle at the end of this month. "A lot of people knew him, so we're looking forward to having a day in his honour."