According to Reuters, US college student John Durkin, 21, of Rye Beach, NH, was discovered in a railroad tunnel in Rome, who went missing for two days for two days before he was found dead on Saturday (February 22).
Railroad police said the young American had been killed by a train.
COMMENT: Durkin was an economics major with a minor in Asian studies, and played football at Bates College, a private liberal arts college in Lewiston, Maine. He was studying abroad with five other Bates College students through a program sponsored by Trinity College of Hartford, CT.
He was last seen by friends early February 20 in the Campo de Fiori section of Rome, according to a statement by Bates College.
Although a significant majority of US universities derive millions from foreign study-abroad programs, the reality is that few universities devote substantial funding to effectively briefing, educating and sensitizing young adults on the risks they will face internationally.
For years concerned parents saw their children go off to college in the US, not knowing the harmful threats they were being exposed to, which resulted in the passage of a federal law mandating that all American universities maintain crime statistics of Part 1 and Part 2 offenses occurring on-campus:
Unfortunately, no such mandate applies to US university students who travel abroad on foreign-study programs. It is about time that concerned parents have access to the same criminal statistics that apply to their young adult children who participate in study-abroad programs.
I can only imagine what is going through the minds of John Durkins' parents who no doubt include, "What Bates/Trinity policies could have prevented their son with such promise from dying abroad unnecessarily?"
Many parents of young adults attending universities in the US often find a foreign-study program at another university because it is THAT program that their son or daughter want to attend.
That being said, parents should be extremely cautious in sending their adult children to another university's foreign-study program unless they have developed a rigorous set of security-related questions and questioned at length that the director of foreign studies relative to their student's safety and security.
One of the security-related questions should include:
"How many participants in your foreign-study program have been seriously injured and/or killed in the last eight years?"