The Telegram
  • Cause of HCCC soccer star’s death remains under investigation

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  • HERKIMER — The American flag at Wehrum Stadium draped at half-mast Monday afternoon in memory of Herkimer College sophomore Peter McAvoy.
    The stadium is where McAvoy, 22, led his team to victories as team captain of the college’s men’s soccer team. A candlelight vigil was scheduled for Monday at the stadium to remember McAvoy’s life.
    Rebecca Ruffing, director of public relations at Herkimer College, said Monday afternoon the vigil had no formal lineup of speakers, but it would likely include words from McAvoy’s coach, Pepe Aragon, college Athletic Director Donald Dutcher and the college’s Dean of Students, Matthew Hawes.
    On Sunday, the college said the cause of death was unknown.
    Vincent A. Enea, Herkimer County coroner for District 3, said after an autopsy at Albany Medical Center on Monday further tests need to be conducted to determine the actual cause of death. Enea said, however, “it doesn’t look suspicious at this time.”
    A news release from the college states McAvoy collapsed suddenly in his Reservoir Run apartment on Saturday, and remained unresponsive despite life-saving attempts by Campus Safety. He was transported to Little Falls Hospital, where additional life saving-attempts were made.
    Ruffing said the vigil planned for the outdoor stadium was to include the release of 22 balloons with the number four on them; 22 to represent McAvoy’s age and 4 to represent the number on his jersey.
    McAvoy, from Dundee, Scotland, helped lead the Generals to back-to-back national championships. He scored three game-winning goals in the most recent title run, including the only score in the championship game, earning him tournament most valuable player honors.
    Ruffing said on Monday none of McAvoy’s team members were willing to comment on his death.
    “They’re not in a place right now to comment,” she said. “So we will respect their wishes.”
    Aragon spoke on behalf of the team Monday afternoon.
    “We’re a bunch of hurt young men right now, but we’ve spent a lot of time together over the past two days, which has helped a lot,” he said during a telephone interview.
    Aragon said the team gathered at the college Saturday night, after the news about McAvoy’s death, and then again on Sunday for several hours at Aragon’s house.
    “It’s been very positive. They’ve been telling funny stories about Pete, things like that,” he said.
    Aragon said there was “no doubt” they have been each other’s support system through this time.
    “We’re a big, huge family here,” he said. “The [team] is from all over the country and the world. We’re sticking together.”
    Aragon said he first met McAvoy in August 2012 when he joined the team.
    Page 2 of 2 - “He was an absolute, take charge person, a natural leader and a very vocal captain,” he said.
    Aragon said McAvoy was supposed to graduate this May and was going to sign a letter of intent with the University of Pittsburgh.
    In an email sent to students, faculty and staff at Herkimer College on Sunday, Hawes said they have “been in contact with Peter’s family, and our deepest condolences are with them all, as they grieve this tragic loss. Our thoughts are also with his teammates, coaches, friends, faculty and staff during this difficult time.”
    Hawes said counseling services were available for those who needed assistance. He also said information regarding his funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.
    “I encourage each of you to support one another during the challenging and sad days ahead,” he said.
    Herkimer police and Campus Safety are working together on the investigation into McAvoy’s death. Herkimer Police Investigator Chad Manley said Monday the death is “still under investigation” at this time.
    “We’ve got a young male here that has passed away, and it’s always going to raise concerns, so we’re going to follow-up any leads we have to rule out foul play or any other circumstances,” he said.
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