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UMaine mourns the loss of second-year student Regan McCleary

Regan McCleary, a second-year mechanical engineering student, died on Sept. 27 after jumping from the Brandon M. Silk Memorial Bridge in Orono overlooking the Stillwater River. Currently, McLeary’s death is under investigation by the Orono Police Department, who will be releasing more information to the public after the investigation is concluded. He was 19 years old and a Buxton native. McCleary excelled academically and was taking a challenging course load this semester including Engineering Graphics and Computer Aided Design, Thermodynamics I and Strength of Materials, all within the mechanical engineering department. He also frequently made the Dean’s List. 

Masoud Rais-Rohani, the chair of mechanical engineering extends his sympathies. “Unfortunately, I did not have Regan in any of my classes. However, he appeared to be doing quite well in the classes he had taken so far at UMaine and we are all very saddened by his loss. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends,” Rais-Rohani said. 

Outside of academics McCleary was also a fantastic friend to his peers. James Libby, a second-year student in kinesiology, remembers his friend as “a genuine joy to be around.”  

“No matter what he’s doing he always did it with a smile. He’s one of those people that simply talking to him can bring a positive influence to your day. He was always there to help you through your lows and praise you for your highs,” Libby said. “One thing I’ll always cherish from him is his love for Goodwill. He was my Goodwill buddy. No matter what he was doing, he would drop everything to come with.”

Libby is hoping that the memory of McCleary will not be lost. He and his group of friends are trying to have a sauna in the New Balance Recreation Center named for McCleary as he would spend a lot of time there catching up with friends or meditating by himself. His close circle of friends are struck with grief but they will continue to band together to ensure McCleary is remembered by all. 

“He’s remembered as the kid who was real,” Libby said. “He always knew how to tell people the truth. He managed to find a balance between not hurting someone’s feelings while still telling them how it is. Regan had a beautiful soul that radiated every time he entered the room.”

In a community message sent to all UMaine undergraduates, UMaine Vice President and Dean of Students Robert Dana said, “[McCleary] is remembered as a motivated and dedicated student, kind and friendly. Our entire university community is grieving for the loss of a young life. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends, his classmates and the College of Engineering community. Our thoughts are with them. This tragedy is a loss for all of us at UMaine and beyond.” 

As a tribute to McCleary, an impromptu memorial was set up along the bridge where the accident occured. Bouquets of flowers lay underneath sports jerseys and t-shirts belonging to McCleary and photographs of him are displayed where rescuers stood days ago trying to save him. Occasionally mourners stand in front of the memorial and gaze out at the river. UMaine urges those who are grieving to reach out to the Counseling Center if they are in need of emotional support. 


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