May 022005
Authors: J.J. Babb

In front of a fountain trickling water outside the Student Recreation Center, more than 60 people gathered to remember David Karspeck's life Monday evening.

David Karspeck drowned on Nov. 23 only a few hundred feet away from where his mother and CSU Campus Recreation officials spoke about him, his life and his death.

"We want to honor David's memory and we don't want to do it just today on this beautiful afternoon in this lovely setting," said Judy Muenchow, director of Campus Recreation.

David Karspeck, a 23-year-old senior computer science major, was swimming laps at the recreation center pool over Thanksgiving break when he glided toward the wall and then sunk to the bottom. He remained on the bottom for more than seven minutes, until another swimmer pulled him to the surface. After 50 seconds a recreation staff member removed him from the water and began CPR.

He was pronounced dead on Nov. 24 at Poudre Valley Hospital after more than 15 hours of resuscitation efforts.

"Take heart today and courage that even though we can not see him, David is with us," said Loretta Capra, senior associate director of the Student Recreation Center.

Although the memorial was held outside the building in which David Karspeck drowned, his father felt that its location brought him peace.

"I look at it as a promise from whoever is here that it won't happen on their watch ever again and that gives me some comfort," Milan Karspeck said.

In April, the Karspecks held a press conference in which they pointed the finger at CSU for communication lapses following their son's death to both them and the CSU community. While months have passed since David Karspeck's death, his parents do not feel the administration has reacted any better.

"There was no initial anger at the tragedy of David drowning, just tremendous sorrow, but in the insuring months we feel anger toward the administration for their lack of communication with us," said Pat Karspeck, David's mother.

The Karspecks have finished settlement talks with CSU legal representatives and are now in a waiting process for things to finalize, Milan Karspeck said.

During the memorial, Pat Karspeck also took time out to thank Nathan Tong, a veterinary medical student who was swimming laps at the pool and pulled David Karspeck to the surface.

"I think he really did go above and beyond what most of us would have done … I think most of us would have swam to the top and yelled for help," Pat Karspeck said. "He went down and grabbed that body and brought it to the top and did everything he could to bring life to that person – my son."

A plaque, a joint effort between his family and the recreation center staff, memorializing David Karspeck stood on display at the service. It will be mounted at the recreation center entrance.

The plaque states: "David Charles Henry Karspeck, Computer Science Major, 2000-2004, I have passed the mountain peak and my soul is soaring in the firmament of complete and unbounded freedom. I am in comfort. I am in peace – Kahlil Gibran."

The plaque, along with a David Karspeck training fund and memorial page in the recreation center's employee handbook, will help to keep his memory alive at the recreation center.

"He will always be known to every student that comes through and is employed at Campus Recreation," Muenchow said. "We will always keep him front and foremost in our family. He will never be forgotten."

Muenchow also talked about the grief and responsibility the recreation center staff feels over David Karspeck's death.

"We are here today to say we acknowledge there was an incident in our facility that tears us up. We acknowledge that the issues that came together to have this happen, we have an impact on that, and so for that, we recognize that we have a responsibility in the future to help prevent this," Muenchow said. "We are truly deeply sorry for your loss."

After a short 15-minute memorial in which both Muenchow and Capra spoke, students, faculty and administration officials mingled with others, ate cookies and drank orange juice and water. For some the service also helped to bring closure.

"It helps bring closure when you can do something that really does honor somebody's memory," Capra said.

On the other hand, Pat Karspeck said she will never find closure.

"I don't think there ever will be a closure," she said.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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