Friends remember Kevin Coffey, who was killed in an accident this weekend.
At approximately 2:30 a.m. on Saturday in Salina, N.Y., just outside of Syracuse, N.Y., Temple lost one of its own.
Nineteen-year-old Kevin Coffey, a sophomore international business major in the Honors Program, was killed in a bus accident. He was on his way to Toronto for the weekend to sightsee.
“He was the nicest kid ever. He was someone who was always happy even when he wasn’t,” said sophomore Amanda Folk, Coffey’s friend.
His friends called Coffey an adventurer.
“Kevin did his own thing,” sophomore Paul Hyer said. “He loved to bike to the city because he could.”
Coffey’s roommate, sophomore Sam Peyros, was the first to find out.
“I thought that he might have been hurt,” Peyros said. “It was only when I read the second article [online] I realized it.”
The bus fell on its side after it hit a bridge that was two feet shorter than the height of the bus. Three other passengers were killed.
When the online articles didn’t name the deceased, Peyros and other friends held onto hope. A few of them began calling local and state authorities, the Red Cross, Syracuse hospitals and anyone who could provide information but were unable to get any answers.
“You have this feeling where it can’t happen to us,” sophomore Adam Ortlieb said.
Sophomore Christa Mercurio said she recalled thinking, “I know it’s OK. He’s always OK. Kevin always comes home.”
“I thought it was him,” sophomore Allison Boegemann said. “Sam [Peyros] said maybe they just found his wallet and he was in the hospital.”
At approximately 4:30 p.m., Hyer walked into the living room of his dorm and sat down on the couch after talking to Coffey’s parents, who were unavailable for comment. Everyone stared at him. While trying to keep composure, Hyer told everyone in the room what they had been dreading.
Another of Coffey’s suitemates, sophomore Michael Nitikman, was visiting New York City and could not be reached until 9 p.m., when he came home. The group that met him outside the door to his room told him what happened.
The friends who were not present rushed to the dorm as quickly as possible, and everyone exchanged condolences and tears. The door to Coffey’s dorm in Temple Towers was adorned with mementos from his room and pictures. A flag from Kansas, where he grew up, and a poster from a rowing competition were also hung up.
Most of Coffey’s friends spent the rest of the weekend together talking about their friend. Hyer and Boegemann called him quirky. All of them remembered how he was a terrible dancer.
He was always moving and loved to hike, run or go biking, they said. He took classes at Kansas State while still in high school and was an Eagle Scout. His friends recalled how he always told unusual bits of information about anything, likening him to a walking Wikipedia.
“Kevin just seemed to embody curiosity,” Nitikman said. “He always wanted to know more. He wanted to see more. That explains why he traveled across the country [to Toronto].”
Sophomore Jen Hartman said Coffey was close to his family, including an uncle who lived near Philadelphia.
“The last thing he said to me was, ‘My side of the room is messier than yours,’” said Peyros who has vacated his room for the time. “It doesn’t even look like he’s left. I see him working at his own desk.”
Jake Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.