UMass mourns a departed classmate

By Alyssa Creamer

Family, friends and members of the University of Massachusetts community grieve over the loss of Jason Miner, a UMass student who passed away Tuesday Nov. 9. Miner is remembered as a quiet, polite and kind young man.

“Jason was warm, very quiet and nonjudgmental,” said his father, Allan Miner. “He always saw the good in other people, and he never said a bad word about anyone.”

“He was a good kid. He was that kind of friend that you could count on all the time. He was like a brother to everyone he met,” said his roommate Evan Lugo, a senior mechanical engineering major at UMass. “He had an attitude that from the minute you met him, you just instantly became friends, and that’s something you only come across once in a lifetime.”

“He was a really good friend, and he was really bright,” continued Lugo. “He had a beautiful mind – he was really deep, you know, his brain was always working, and he was always trying to put the pieces together on anything he was thinking about.”

Miner was found dead in a four-door sedan parked in the Rolling Greens Apartment complex Tuesday morning. Officials from the Amherst Police Department and the Amherst Fire Department responded to calls about a strange smell in the area.

Upon arrival, officials discovered the smell was caused by hydrogen sulfide, a deadly chemical that has been used in a number of suicides and can be produced by combining liquids commonly found in households.

Born on July 3, 1989, Jason was adopted by Allan and Wendy Miner at age 3. Miner is also survived by his 27-year-old sister Amanda. The family of four resided in Spencer, Mass., where Miner attended David Prouty High School and went on to Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, where he made the Dean’s List.

Miner decided to apply to UMass because he “liked the people at UMass and thought it would be a great opportunity for him,” said his father. This fall was Miner’s first semester at the University, and he was studying psychology and physics.

According to his father, Miner had enjoyed skateboarding and spent a lot of his time hanging out with friends. His father remembered how Miner liked to go camping regularly with a group of friends and family members. In an obituary published by the Telegram News, it was said that Miner was also a member of his high school golf team.

“He was always thoughtful and polite. He was a hard-worker,” said Miner’s father. “He always had a job and was always responsible.” Miner had worked at John’s Pizza, located on Main Street in Spencer.

“An all around wonderful son,” said Allan Miner. “[Jason was] a great person, a very great person.”

“He was an amazing person. I wish more people at UMass could have gotten to know him,” said Lugo. “It would have benefited their lives to have know him because he touched everybody he met.” Lugo met Miner two months ago, and the pair became very close. According to Lugo, all of the roommates were very close.

“I’d been living in our apartment for a year,” said Lugo. “When Jay came, I explained to him the house rules and how we liked to keep things in the apartment very family-oriented so we could all rely on each other and spend time with each other as opposed to just being strangers who live together, and Jay was all for the idea.”

“We would spend just about every night together,” continued Lugo. “We’d always sit around and have movie nights or cook dinner together. We were like a family.”

According to Lugo, Miner was a very laidback person, who didn’t get out of the house a lot, but hung out with friends constantly.

“I don’t know how many friends he made at UMass,” said Lugo. “But he had a lot of friends from Spencer, and they would drive over an hour to hang out with him just for an afternoon. He was that much fun.”

Miner’s roommate and Lugo’s girlfriend Piper Power said, “The best thing about Jay was how generous he was. He was always putting people ahead of him. He would do anything to make you happy. That’s just who he was, so generous, so courteous.”

Power also said she felt that Miner was extremely intelligent. “He was so deep and really intelligent. Although he didn’t go to a class a lot – he just wasn’t that interested in going to classes, he was still really smart. He had so many ideas,” she said.

“He loved his cat Tuffy, who lived with us,” said Power. “Tuffy was awful. He was a demon cat who would scratch and bite, and hated the roommates, but Tuffy loved Jay. Jay could hold him upside down and Tuffy would just be really docile and do nothing and then jump in Jay’s lap. No one could touch that cat except for Jay.”

Lugo talked about how the day before Miner’s death, Lugo’s car had broken down, and Miner offered to drive from Granby to give Lugo a ride home.

“You could always count on him,” said Lugo. “He called me asking for the Netflix password or something, and I told him I was a little busy and couldn’t remember it, because my car had broken down. And he was in Granby and insisted on giving me a ride.”

“I told him not to bother because the tow truck was coming,” said Lugo. “But that’s the kind of friend he was. He would drop everything he was doing just to help out a friend. He was something else.”

“It’s a shame that he’s gone,” said Lugo. “I’m glad I at least got to meet him when he was still with us, because he definitely changed our lives forever as our roommate. I don’t think we’ll ever meet someone quite like that again.”

“Jay wasn’t depressed, and this didn’t happen because of a particular incident. Jay had a lot going on in his life,” said Lugo. “We’re happy for him now, because he isn’t hurting anymore.”

Alyssa Creamer can be reached at [email protected].