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Rindge

FPU student dies after skateboard accident

Jamie Mayer, 19, injured head in fall on campus April 8

  • A Franklin Pierce University student was airlifed to UMass Medical Center on Monday night, after he sustained a serious head injury in a skateboarding accident on University Drive in Rindge.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

RINDGE — A music-lover, big brother, loyal friend and old soul. That’s how friends and family said they will remember 19-year-old Jamie Mayer, who on Saturday succumbed to a serious brain injury he sustained in a skateboarding accident on the Franklin Pierce University campus on April 8.

Mayer, of Coventry, R.I., was having the time of his life as a freshman at FPU, his mom, Ellen Mayer said by phone Monday.

“He loved his friends there so much. I knew them all by last name,” she said. “His time there was just so, so short.”

Ellen Mayer said her son fought for his life for 12 long days at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Mass., following the accident, but that recently his strength was waning. “I could just see it that morning,” Mayer said on Saturday, the day her son died. “I said, ‘Jamie, if you can’t do it anymore, I won’t be mad at you. I love you.’”

Mayer and a friend, FPU freshman George Apostolopoulos, were skateboarding at the intersection of University Drive, Ingalls Road and Mountain Road at 6:45 p.m. on April 8, when they collided with each other at a high-rate of speed, according to first responders to the accident. Friends of Mayer who witnessed the collision and first responders say Mayer fell off his skateboard, struck his head on the pavement and was lying on the ground unconscious when rescuers arrived. Neither Mayer nor Apostolopoulos was wearing a helmet.

Mayer, who was airlifted to UMass that evening from Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge, had emergency surgery to remove a portion of his skull in order to relieve the pressure on his brain, according to Ellen Mayer.

“[The surgery] went very well and the doctors felt he was going to come out of it,” Ellen Mayer said. “But then he got pneumonia, which I think is what ultimately took him.”

Ellen Mayer said her son was truly her best friend and is leaving so many loved ones behind, including his 16-year-old sister Alexa, who idolized her older brother.

On the university campus Monday, students were grieving the loss of a best friend, classmate and all-around nice kid, who they called “a true gentleman.” A group of Mayer’s closest friends said they had held a candlelight vigil Sunday and were planning a second vigil for Monday evening in Mayer’s honor.

Apostolopoulos, who sustained scrapes and bruises when he collided with Mayer, said he wished he could have done something to prevent the tragedy. Apostolopoulos said he and Mayer were skateboarding down a hill near the university’s campus center and traveling about 15 to 20 miles per hour.

“I was yelling to him, ‘Watch out!’ because I saw we were going to collide,” Apostolopoulos said. But it was too late: Mayer had swerved in front of Apostolopoulos and the two were brought to the ground.

FPU junior James LeBlanc said he didn’t see the collision, but arrived on scene shortly after. “The worst site was seeing [Mayer] on the ground,” LeBlanc said, explaining that there was a significant amount of blood coming from his friend’s head.

FPU sophomore Joseph Small said he had just finished eating dinner with Mayer at the university’s cafeteria before the accident occurred and was in shock to learn of his friend’s injuries.

“It was definitely a reality check,” Small said, adding that he wished the university would do more to increase awareness about recreational safety and helmet use.

Everyone thinks it’ll never be them, said FPU freshman Brittany Lund. She said she considered Mayer a part of her FPU family and will never forget the love he showed to others.

“I’m praying for his family and his little sister,” she said. “He had the world at his feet.”

FPU freshman Lauren Caduto said Mayer cared about others more than himself and was always willing to lend a helping hand. The morning before the accident, Caduto said, she and Mayer had a really personal and great conversation — the first of its kind. “To think it was our last,” Caduto said. “You just never know.”

FPU senior Miranda Mantello said on Sunday that she always saw Mayer around campus, but never got the chance to know him well. “I heard great things about him, though,” she said. “I could only imagine how blessed those who got to know him feel.”

In an FPU statement emailed to the Ledger-Transcript on Monday, Lisa Murray, director of university relations and creative services, wrote, “The university is enormously saddened by the news of Jamie Mayer’s passing and extends its deepest sympathy and compassion for his family and friends.”

Ellen Mayer said her son was building a place for himself at FPU and always looked forward to returning to the school after an extended break at home. “He would tell me, ‘My world is there now,’” she said.

Her son hadn’t picked a major yet, but his love for music was apparent to everyone who knew him, Ellen Mayer said.

“I told him when he went to college to do things that he wouldn’t normally do. I told him to experiment with life,” she said.

A close friend of the Mayer family, Brian Haskell of South Warwick, R.I., said by phone Monday that Mayer was growing into an exceptional young man and had a bright future ahead of him.

“There was joy in everything he did,” Haskell said. “He loved playing the guitar and would sit in his basement or up in his room for hours. He certainly didn’t mind singing nice and loud. And he danced like no one was watching, too.”

In the days following Mayer’s accident, Haskell helped establish a memorial fund in Mayer’s name. Initially the fund was set up to provide financial support to the Mayer family as their son was expected to face a long and difficult recovery. Now the fund will be used to provide financial assistance to the Mayers, with the remainder of the money raised being donated to UMass Memorial Hospital for future brain trauma patients.

Information about the Jamie Mayer Memorial Fund can be found on Facebook on a community page of the same name.

A memorial service for Mayer will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Temple Am David in Warwick, R.I.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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