Sharing a moment of profound grief and campus solidarity, an estimated 1,000 Towson University students gathered Monday night at a candlelight vigil to mourn the past weekend's unexpected deaths of students Ryan Bailey and Timothy Coyer.
They arrived early, and lingered on the hill looking down at the Speaker's Circle at Towson University long after a solemn rendition of "Taps" signaled the ceremony's end.
In between, the students sought strength in themselves and in the words of their university leaders to help cope with the loss.
"If you have any doubt about the love these two men have given all of us, then just take a look at the love on this hill," said President Maravene Loeschke during the vigil.
The ceremony, organized by the university's Greek community, began with religious remarks from Rabbi Mendy Rivkin and Fr. Tom Ryan.
Loeschke then urged the students to cherish each day they're given.
"Ryan and Tim will not be able to live out their lives and their dreams, but it is highly likely that most of you on this hill will be able to do that," she said. "So what you can do is carry them in your hearts as we move forward in our lives of love and service, and carry them with us so that as we move through, we are living our lives for them as well."
After a memorial ceremony performed by the leaders of the Greek community, a single flame was lit and from it, the candles that had been distributed to the gathered students.
Calvin Smith, coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life at Towson, then gave remarks about the students, both of whom were fraternity members.
He said Bailey, a member of Sigma Chi, exemplified the fraternity's values of friendship, justice and learning, and had rededicated himself to those virtues before his passing.
Smith said Coyer's affect on his fraternity, Kappa Sigma, made it seem like he'd been a member for much longer than two months.
He said Coyer, an Army veteran who was in the Maryland National Guard, was a friend and confidant to his brothers.
"It is always a tragedy to lose a soldier," Smith said. "His memory should be appreciated and held in the highest regard."
The two deaths, though separate, shook the university last Saturday, March 30.
Sometime before 1:51 a.m. Saturday, Bailey, 20 of Seaford, N.Y., was walking near the intersection of York Road and Washington Avenue in Towson when a vehicle that was traveling north on York Road struck him and sent him into a grass embankment.
Baltimore County Police describe the car as an "older model silver or white boxy style car," and as of Tuesday were still seeking witnesses to the accident, as well as individuals who had been with Bailey that evening.
Then, at around 2:25 p.m. Saturday, county police responded to an apartment in the 7700 block of Greenview Terrace, where Coyer, 27, was pronounced dead after a cardiac arrest.
Marina Cooper, assistant to the president for external relations and communications at Towson University, said Tuesday afternoon that the vigil was meant to honor the students' impact on the university community.
"Any time we lose members of the campus community, vigils, memorials or anything we can do as a campus to remember those individuals is extremely important to us," Cooper said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun