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UPDATE: Funeral information for University of Florida student remembered for love of animals, cycling

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Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 5:30 pm | Updated: 5:41 pm, Tue Apr 17, 2012.

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 tjett@alligator.org.

Welcome to the discussion.

9 comments:

  • 24681 posted at 2:04 pm on Thu, Apr 19, 2012.

    24681 Posts: 14

    Before there was the Internet and the www.Alligator.org, there was a family out there whose son died nearly 20 years ago at the same football stadium.

    Possibly, @Gatorade1 will send his/her apology to the parents and family of that incident, instead of referring to it (the death of their son), as a ‘pointless piece of information’.

    In addition, @Gatorade1, with wisdom and understanding, may want to send his/her condolences to the family that just lost their son, by way of this website, using the Internet, of which, @Gatorade1 has not yet done so, nor has @Cmontana15.

    Good luck to @Gatorade1 and @Cmontana15, with your future endeavors with school and thereafter.

    And once again, my sincerest condolences to the parents, friends, and to all that were a positive part of Mr. Michael Edmonds life.

     
  • cmontana15 posted at 12:41 am on Wed, Apr 18, 2012.

    cmontana15 Posts: 57

    @gatorad1 that's my bad. I'm sorry.

     
  • gatorade1 posted at 2:32 pm on Mon, Apr 16, 2012.

    gatorade1 Posts: 2

    I was refering to the comment made before mine

     
  • MummysCurse posted at 9:25 am on Mon, Apr 16, 2012.

    MummysCurse Posts: 195

    This is heart-rending. Mr. Edmonds surely had positive contributions to make to our world, and now they won't happen.

    Many of us feel despair at times, and we see the glass as half empty, not half full. We have to try to remember that our perspective is not the only perspective. One of the greatest things in this life is to connect with another person who seems to "get it" and encourages us to do our best, believe in ourselves, overlook our own flaws.

    Mr. Edmonds seems like someone who could have helped other people, and wanted to help other people. Perhaps in death he will inspire people in the UF community to think about their "connectedness" to others and try to think about their own responsibility to encourage their friends and family members to tough out the hard times and be a source of inspiration.

     
  • geedlife posted at 4:51 am on Mon, Apr 16, 2012.

    geedlife Posts: 1

    My condolences to the family, friends and acquaintances of Michael. A death in a Gator Nation is felt by the entire Gator Nation.

     
  • Afriend posted at 2:10 am on Mon, Apr 16, 2012.

    Afriend Posts: 1

    A heartfelt obituary from someone who didn't even know him:
    http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/michael-r.-edmonds-jr.

     
  • cmontana15 posted at 1:45 am on Mon, Apr 16, 2012.

    cmontana15 Posts: 57

    @Gatorade1 seriously? I'm not sure what part of this article could be considered "pointless."

    R.I.P Michael. Wish I'd known you. Pretty sure I'd seen you around campus numerous times.

     
  • gatorade1 posted at 12:32 am on Mon, Apr 16, 2012.

    gatorade1 Posts: 2

    Wow, thanks for that pointless piece of information...

     
  • 24681 posted at 12:06 am on Mon, Apr 16, 2012.

    24681 Posts: 14

    My sincerest condolences go out to the family, friends, classmates and others who are affected by this traumatic event.

    I was a student at the University of Florida between 1990-1994, and I think sometime between 1991-1993, was the last time a student died from a fall from the top of the football field.

    It is always a tragic event when this happens. Once again, my sincerest condolences to all involved.