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Mourning the Loss of Heroic Students

Posted 07/06/2018
Posted by Jonathan Easterbrook

The U.S. Department of State has issued a statement of condolence to the families and friends of two Saudi students who died June 28 while jumping into dangerous waters to rescue children in Wilbraham, Massachusetts—all of the children made it safely back to shore. Theeb Alyami was a senior at the University of Hartford studying civil engineering. Jaser Alrakah attended UHart between 2015–17 and was currently enrolled at Western New England University.

The U.S. Department of State statement reads:

The United States expresses its heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of Theeb Alyami and Jaser Alrakah after their tragic deaths in Massachusetts. The young men drowned while courageously attempting to save children in distress. Their heroism represents the very best of the international students who enrich communities across the United States. Theeb and Jaser were among the 52,000 Saudi students studying in the United States who bring greater international understanding and diverse perspectives to U.S. campuses and communities, and to Saudi Arabia when they return home.

University of Hartford President Gregory Woodward issued the following statement to the campus community earlier this week:

It is with an extremely heavy heart that I write to tell you of a tragic loss. University of Hartford student Theeb Alyami passed away in an accidental drowning in Massachusetts on Friday.

Theeb, an international student from Saudi Arabia, was a senior studying civil engineering. A contributing member of our vibrant community, he was attending UHart after earning sponsorship of his educational experience by the Cultural Mission of Saudi Arabia.

We will mourn this terrible loss together. In the days ahead, we will work with Theeb's family to determine the most appropriate way to honor his memory. For now, I ask that you keep his family and friends, as well as our CETA colleagues, in your thoughts and prayers as they begin to cope with this tragedy. If you are in need of support or grief counseling resources, please reach out to the dean of students office at