Dead U.S. student may have been drugged

ROME– The American student found dead in a Roman railway tunnel might have been drugged while drinking, police said Wednesday.

 A day after he went missing, John Durkin’s lifeless body was discovered Thursday morning in the Villa Pamphili tunnel connecting San Pietro and Trastevere stations by an engine driver, and identified by his father on Saturday.

 An Economics student at Bates University, Maine, in Rome since January for a semester of studies at The Barbieri Center located in Aventino, he went out with friends on Wednesday night to a pub on the Campo de’ Fiori.

  After they lost sight of him later that night around 1.30am, his companions, alarmed, started a search on social media platforms. But the 21-year old was only found the following morning, already dead.

 The investigations into the exact circumstances of the accident are ongoing, however many questions remain unanswered. How did he get to the tunnel over 3km away from Campo de’ Fiori? And was he alone? The immediate cause of death being the collision with the train, the video footage obtained from CCTV cameras showing the victim staggering along the tracks suggests there is more to the story. His family denies an alcohol problem, however friends believe he might have been drugged.

 John Durkin’s tragic death is not an isolated case. Rome, with its bars open until late at night offering drinks without age proof, has seen many foreign students falling victim to alcohol- and drug-induced accidents. Only a few months ago, in November, another American student, Andrew Keith Carr, died having fallen from a parapet along Lungotevere after a pub crawl with friends.

 Notified about the tragic events by the head of The Barbieri Center, his father and uncle are now in Rome, in contact with the American Embassy, awaiting the results of the investigation. “It happened in a neighbourhood crowded by people day and night”, explains a family friend, “Someone must have seen something.”

  Further analyses of the video material, together with the results of the autopsy and toxicological examinations scheduled for the upcoming days could shed more light on the course of Wednedsay night’s events.