The American flag stood at half-mast in front of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house on Friday evening, where more than 300 mourners had gathered to remember Cody D. Simonian who died earlier in the day.
The SAE fraternity hosted a candlelight vigil on their front lawn Friday evening, with several of Simonian’s family members and friends in attendance.
The vigil lasted for about an hour as friends talked about Simonian as a person and experiences they had with them. Father Peter Gillquin, the national chaplain for the SAE chapter, led students in prayers and provided consoling words.
“He was a class clown character,” said Collin Helgeson, the president of SAE. “He was always laughing.”
Simonian suffered a massive head injury Thursday evening while cliff diving with friends at a quarry at County Road 21C and Highway 287, near Poudre Canyon, said Sheenhan Meagher, director of public relations for the interfraternity council.
He was struck by a friend who came in contact with him after jumping into the water.
Simonian’s friends immediately administered CPR and called for an ambulance.
He was taken to Poudre Valley Hospital and underwent surgery to relieve pressure surrounding his brain. He died at 10:58 a.m. Friday, with his parents by his side.
The official cause of death has not yet been released.
The incident occurred following an official SAE rush activity held on Thursday, where participants went tubing down the Poudre River.
Afterwards a group split off to go cliff diving at the quarry, said Anne Hudgens, executive director of student life at CSU.
The tubing activity was part of Greek recruitment activities where fraternities and sororities on campus encourage new membership.
There was no alcohol involved in the incident, Hudgens said.
“This was a tragic incident and nothing more,” she said.
The quarry is located on Colorado Department of Transportation land. The Colorado Department of Transportation had prepared “no trespassing” signs prior to the incident. The signs are scheduled to be posted this week, according to the Denver Post.
Simonion was in his second year at CSU as an open-option major. He was an active SAE member.
He went to high school in Telluride, where his parents and younger brother, 12, currently live. His friends knew him as a happy person that was always laughing.
“Every time he walked into a room, it just lit up,” Helgeson said.
The Inter-fraternal Council is coordinating a memorial service with Simonian’s family and the SAE fraternity for possibly early in the week, said Nathan Flynn, the president of the interfraternity council.
“The memorial is still in the planning stages,” he said.