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Police investigate William & Mary student’s death

Posted at 3:49 PM, Oct 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-16 22:08:21-04

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Police are investigating after a 20-year-old William and Mary student was found dead early Saturday morning.

Officers received a call around 1:20 a.m. about an unconscious person and responded along with fire units to the 100 block of Matoaka Court. Upon arrival, they found a 20-year-old male student unconscious and transported him to Riverside Hospital.

The student, identified by the school as Tiacheng "Austin" Zheng from Suzhou, China, was pronounced dead around 2 a.m.

The university's Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler released this statement on the school's website:

Dear William & Mary Community,

With deep sadness I am writing to tell you of the death of one of our students, Tiancheng “Austin” Zheng, a junior from Suzhou, China. Shortly after 2:00 a.m. today, medics and the Williamsburg Police responded to a 911 call about a student in cardiac arrest at an off-campus location. Austin was then transported to Riverside Doctor’s Hospital.

A dean’s list student studying biology and art, Austin was an active member of Kappa Alpha Fraternity. Prior to coming to the United States for college, he worked as a teaching assistant with New Channel Education Group, helping professional English instructors in TOEFL and SAT classes and working closely with high school students to build their English vocabulary and reading skills. Austin expressed a special interest in both health and the cultural arts.

Since learning this tragic news, members of the student affairs staff and the W&M police have been offering direct assistance to those who were closest to Austin. The Dean of Students Office, the Counseling Center, Residence Life, campus ministers, and my office are on-call throughout the weekend and available on a priority basis for those who need us. Counselors can be reached any time by phone at 757-221-3620. I will send a follow-up message in the coming days once we have information about funeral and/or memorial arrangements.

Today’s tragedy reminds us of how close we are to one another at William & Mary. What affects one of us affects us all. I know you join me in extending our heartfelt sympathies to Austin’s family and his many friends.

The Medical Examiner's office will determine the cause of death. The investigation is ongoing.