Corrected Feb. 21. By AT News Team, Feb. 19, 2015: Three unrelated incidents in recent weeks at Adventist colleges and universities have left two young adults dead and a third in a coma. The shocked campus communities have pulled together in prayer and support for the families.
Madison Baird died last Wednesday (Feb. 11) the day after she was struck by a pickup truck while riding a bicycle near the campus of Walla Walla University in the U.S. state of Washington. She was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, reported the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.
Baird was 20 years of age and a sophomore enrolled in a preprofessional program in nutrition and dietetics with a Spanish major. Her family lived in the local community and she graduated from Walla Walla Valley Academy, the nearby Adventist secondary school. “Stunned students gathered in groups to pray throughout the day,” said the Adventist Review. “A special prayer service was held at noon in front of the main administration building.”
Akim Zhigankov died Tuesday (Feb. 17) after more than a week in the intensive care unit at the hospital in Dasmarinas City, the Philippines. He was 23 years of age, the son of two faculty members at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS), the graduate school that serves much of Asia.
Zhigankov had been working in a project to develop a health retreat facility on Romblon Island in the Philippine Republic. He came home ill and was put in the hospital and his condition became worse, according to a bulletin from AIIAS.
Heather Boulais remains in a coma in a hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, after a fall while setting up acrobatic equipment in the gymnasium at Union College on January 14. She had surgery on February 8 and her parents reported on February 12 that she has been off the ventilator for at least two days.
Boulais is also 23 years of age and a senior elementary education major from Laguna Niguel, California, according to a report from the college. She is a member of the Gymnaires, the college’s acrobatic gymnastic team and was in a safety harness when she fell. Many readers have told Adventist Today that they are part of a network of people praying for her in congregations across North America.
“It is particularly painful when people at the beginning of their adult lives are struck down,” a veteran youth worker told Adventist Today. “But when these things happen on an Adventist campus you see how caring everyone can be and the depth of the hope that we have in Jesus.”