September 16, 2014

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UMass senior dies off campus, cause remains unreleased

Amherst Police Blog

Amherst Police Blog

Officials confirmed Thursday that University of Massachusetts senior James “Jim” W. Tan, 22, of Belchertown, died Feb. 19 off campus of unreleased causes.

The death, which occurred in Amherst, was “not suspicious” and no foul play is suspected, according to Mary Carey, spokesperson at the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.

Carey said her office responds to “all unattended deaths,” meaning that state police assigned to the DA’s office check out every death that does not occur in a hospital to ensure no crimes were committed.

UMass spokesman Daniel Fitzgibbons said Tan was not an on-campus resident.

Tan, a senior, was studying mechanical engineering at the University.

“We extend our sincere condolences to James’ family,” wrote Dean of Students Enku Gelaye in an email addressed to the UMass community yesterday morning. The email notification came two days after Tan’s passing.

Fitzgibbons said that because the death happened off campus, University officials had to wait for the DA’s office and the Amherst Police Department to finish initial investigations into the case before notifying the UMass community.

“Usually it’s a case of you have to trace down next-of-kin,” Carey said.

Fitzgibbons said the Dean of Students Office was notified first on Thursday morning, and that the office has been in touch with Tan’s family and friends.

“Our concern is for his family and friends to make sure they get support from the University and to help them work through what is a difficult time for them,” Fitzgibbons said.“I would imagine that in the next day or two there will be some word on arrangements.”

In her email, Gelaye provided supportive resources for the UMass community to use, including those at the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health, located at 127 Hills North in the Central Residential Area, Office of Religious and Spiritual Life in room 308 of the Student Union, the Dean of Students Office at 227 Whitmore and the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, located on the ground floor of University Health Services.

Chelsie Field can be reached at cfield@student.umass.edu.

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