Wheaton College freshman fatally struck during track event warmups, police say

WHEATON, Ill. (WLS) -- Police say they are still trying to determine exactly what led up to the death of a Wheaton College student Saturday.

Wheaton College is in mourning after a 19-year-old student was killed in a bizarre accident at a track meet Saturday.

Ethan Roser was killed when he was accidentally hit in the head during a hammer throw competition on the Wheaton College track at about 4:15 p.m., school officials confirmed.

Roser was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove where he was pronounced dead.

Wheaton Deputy Chief of Police Bill Murphy confirmed the student killed was a marker at the meet, meaning he would be marking the spot of a throw with a laser. Murphy also said the incident occurred during warmups for the event, that the victim was standing off to the side when an errant throw struck him

Wheaton College's athletic conference, the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, did not run the event.

Roser was a transfer student from Cincinnati and agreed to work the event as a volunteer.

"We are deeply grieved, but, because of our faith in Christ, not without hope," said Wheaton College President Philip Ryken. "We ask people to pray for Ethan's family, his friends, and our campus community."

Saturday night, athletes from the competing schools joined Wheaton students for a prayer in Ethan's honor.

"I come here and it's really tough. This is where it happened and it's crazy to see how life in a moment can go away," said Max Scaffsma, who attends Wheaton College.

"He always wore these awesome Donald Duck shoes and the first day of class I remember talking to him about them and laughing with him about it and every day after that we would just get in and he was always kind and generous and willing to make good conversation with you," said Colin Wolgeuth, who also attends Wheaton College.

Roser was a member of the soccer team.

A service was held for Wheaton College students, faculty and staff Sunday at Pierce Memorial Chapel at 8 p.m.

A service was held for Wheaton College students, faculty and staff Sunday night at Pierce Memorial Chapel.

"A lot of people are grieving," said Kelly Tang, another Wheaton College student. "We all kind of feel it in the atmosphere."

"I think it just makes you value life that much more. Kids our age aren't supposed to die. We are in the prime of our lives," said Caleb Ashby, another Wheaton College student.

Roser's professors described him as a good student who had dreams of becoming a minister.

"The biggest thing about him is that he loved Jesus with intensity and he wanted everyone to know how much they were loved by God and could be forgiven," said Dr. Jerry Root, a professor at Wheaton College.

Wheaton College Track & Field Team praying on field on April 22, 2017.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Whipple Graham

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