Update: Michael R. Edmonds Jr.’s funeral will be held Thursday afternoon at Broadus-Raines Funeral Home, 501 Spring St., Green Cove Springs. The funeral home will host a viewing at 1 p.m. and a service an hour later.
Edmonds’ mother, Susan, asked that donations in her son’s memory be given to The Ryan Light Sang Bipolar Awareness Foundation. Everyone is welcome to attend the funeral, according to an email from Quenta Vettel, director of communications in the College of Journalism and Communications.
One Monday in February, Michael R. Edmonds Jr. carried a baby squirrel into his 7:25 a.m. editing lab.
The squirrel fell from a tree, Edmonds told classmates. He wrapped it in his jacket so it wouldn’t freeze. He was going to take it to a veterinarian’s office, he said. He wrote about the incident on his Facebook page.
“O nothin’, just chillin with a squirrel in a sock!” he posted two days later.
“He was a very kind and caring person,” said Sarah Kinonen, 21, a fellow journalism major and an Alligator staffer. “He always made me laugh, and I thought he was always very nice.”
On Sunday evening, Edmonds, a 26-year-old journalism student, died after falling from the upper levels of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. He was found on the sidewalk on the northwest corner of the stadium near Gate 4.
An investigation was still open Sunday night, but University Police spokesman Maj. Brad Barber said the death is most likely a suicide.
“This is a tremendous tragedy,” he said.
Ashley Gregory, a 20-year-old microbiology junior, said she was meeting with a campus organization near the stadium when she heard a thud. Soon after, two women ran to their group and told them a man fell.
They found Edmonds lying at the base of a tree on the sidewalk. Three people were giving him CPR, she said. Gregory called 911 at 7:02 p.m., and two minutes later, emergency workers arrived on the scene.
On Sunday night, Edmonds’ friends recalled a man who was passionate about cycling, journalism and animals, who wanted to write for magazines and who lost more than 100 pounds riding bikes.
Edmonds was a member of Team Florida Cycling — “Director of Humor & Vulgarity,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“He was a great guy, one of the best team members we ever had,” said Richard J. Buning, an officer on the team. “He was always one of the first guys to sign up to do something.”
But in February, Edmonds suffered several fractured vertebrae after he was hit by a car while riding with his teammates. He hadn’t been able to ride since, and he was constrained to a back brace.
Edmonds expressed frustration on his Twitter account about having to watch races from the sidelines.
“I never knew it was possible to miss something this bad,” he wrote. “...can we rewind life and restore my back? I NEED to ride a bike.”
On Friday, he expressed several frustrations, among them his dissatisfaction with Shands at UF and his health insurance company. Then, on Saturday morning, he was arrested for driving under the influence.
“I just want to apologize to my friends, family and those close to me,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “I f—d up...bad.”
On Sunday many of his friends spoke warmly about Edmonds. Kristen Bowe, a member of the cycling team, said Edmonds’ first thought after the accident was for the well-being of his dog, Conrad. He was worried about how Conrad would eat and who would walk him.
Members of the cycling team said Edmonds was open about issues he had in the past, and that cycling was one of the things that made him the happiest.
“He was disappointed he couldn’t ride his bike,” Buning said. “It was a big part of his life.”
Edmonds recently bought a new bike, and he brought it to class, showing it to his teacher and teaching assistant.
He was also passionate about journalism, his friends said. On Oct. 18, he wrote his first article for the Alligator.
“Even though he was really hurt and in a lot of pain he would stay up late in the journalism labs finishing his design project,” said Bowe, a 24-year-old mass communications graduate student. “He was very dedicated to school.”
Students thinking about suicide should get help immediately by contacting the university’s Counseling and Wellness Center at 352-392-1575.
Students can also contact the Alachua County Crisis Center at 352-264-6789 and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Alligator staff writers Joey Flechas, Emily Morrow, Jon Silman and Meredith Rutland contributed to this report.
Contact Tyler Jett at [email protected].