Editor’s note: This message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Sept. 19, 2016.
Dear Campus Community,
I am writing with a heavy heart to let you know that second-year kinesiology major William “Billy” Nguyen, a San Jose native, passed away Saturday while hiking in Sequoia National Park with a group of fellow SJSU students and staff members as part of SJSU’s Outdoor Adventures recreation program (read the National Park Service release).
Members of the traveling party were swimming in a lake when Billy reportedly struggled and sank beneath the water’s surface. The group tried unsuccessfully to rescue him. A search and rescue team has recovered his body; the Tulare County Medical Examiner is determining the cause of death.
Along with counseling and other university staff, I was on campus to meet the traveling party when their bus returned Sunday evening. As one would imagine, they have been badly shaken by this tragedy. I assured them that the SJSU community is and will continue to be here for them.
Our students and staff acted with remarkable courage, composure and thoughtfulness. On behalf of the entire university community, I want them to know how proud we are of them.
Billy was an Outdoor Adventures student assistant who completed a training course last year so that he could serve as a student leader this year. He was among five staff members on this trip.
He has been described to me as someone who, while sometimes reserved, loved group activities and wanted to inspire others to join in and be active. His interests included fitness and outdoors activities. He enjoyed working out and getting others to do the same.
Earlier today I spoke personally with Billy’s mother. As your president and as a parent, I am heartbroken for the Nguyen family and for all who knew and loved their son. Please keep Billy, his family and friends in your thoughts and your hearts during this difficult time. Counseling services are available if you need them.
Mary A. Papazian