February 27

Video shows Bates student walking on tracks before death

Taken four hours after he was last seen, the video shows the Bates student approaching the train tunnel in Rome.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Students in Rome held a memorial service Wednesday for a Bates College student who was apparently struck by a train and killed in the city last week while on a foreign study program.

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Emotions ran high Monday as mourners pour edout of Pettengill Hall at Bates College after a memorial service for John Durkin.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

Italian authorities continued their investigation into John Durkin’s death, with surveillance video helping answer some questions, according to Italian media reports.

Durkin of Rye Beach, N.H., was on the foreign study program arranged through Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., when he disappeared early Thursday morning after visiting a bar with some friends. His body was found about two miles away in a railroad tunnel later that morning, although his identity was not confirmed by his father until Saturday.

Durkin was a popular student and accomplished athlete at the prestigious Lewiston college and his death was an emotional loss to his friends and classmates in Maine and fellow students in Rome. Trinity College organized Wednesday’s memorial service, a private event for students, faculty and staff held in the chapel of the college’s campus in Rome. “Our reports are that it was beautiful and comforting ... The priest was eloquent,” said Michele Jacklin, a spokeswoman for Trinity College.

A memorial service was held at Bates on Monday.

A spokesman for Bates College said the school had no new information to release about the investigation or funeral arrangements.

Durkin’s family in New Hampshire could not be located for comment. Durkin’s father, Tim Durkin, is still in Rome.

Italian authorities say Durkin was struck by a train in a railroad tunnel between St. Peter’s and Trastevere train stations. The tunnel is about two miles from the bar, Sloppy Sam’s, in the opposite direction from his dormitory.

The area where the bar is located, the Piazza Campo dei Fiori, has open air markets during the day and is a popular nightspot for foreign tourists. It also has seen incidents of violence in recent years, according to press reports.

Italian newspapers reported that an image taken from a security camera near the San Pietro train station shows Durkin walking along the tracks toward the tunnel at daybreak. He was described as “staggering” but uninjured.

A spokesman for the consular office at the U.S. Embassy in Rome was not working Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. A telephone message left with the press office was not returned. Prosecutors in Rome also declined to talk about the case.

Durkin was found without any identification, which is why it took so long to identify him.

Authorities released no new details on the case Wednesday, including whether Durkin’s identification had been located.

An autopsy was scheduled, as were toxicology tests, although results were not available.

Durkin went to the bar with friends who left at about 1:30 a.m. while he remained. He left at 2 a.m. when the bar closed but his movements in the four-hour window from 2 a.m. to when he appeared on the camera near the train station are not known.

Sloppy Sam’s describes itself as “the only dedicated American bar in Rome.” It has English-speaking staff and shows American sporting events on television, according to its Facebook page.

It also emphasizes its high alcohol beers, free shots and drinking games. Wednesday night was karaoke night, according to the page.

The bar responded to questions left on its Facebook page Wednesday, saying it did not wish to comment.

Press accounts say the train’s driver was charged with involuntary manslaughter, a formality necessary for the investigation to go forward and the driver to participate.

Durkin’s body was spotted by a passenger on a passing train, according to Italian authorities.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:



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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Emotions run high Monday as mourners pour out of Pettengill Hall at Bates College after a memorial service for John Durkin.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Jeffrey Jones of Atlanta, who briefly played football with Durkin at Bates, reflects on the loss of his teammate.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer


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