Wharton junior found dead Monday afternoon
April 26, 2010, 8:41 pm·
Wharton junior Owen Thomas was found dead at his off-campus residence around 2 p.m. Monday afternoon, University spokeswoman Lori Doyle and Director of Athletic Communication Mike Mahoney confirmed. He was a member of the football team.
Cause of death has not yet been determined, but “no foul play is suspected,” according to Doyle.
Thomas, who played defensive end for the Quakers, was recently voted a captain of the football team.
“The Penn Football family is deeply saddened today with the news of the sudden death of one of our shining lights, Owen Thomas,” football coach Al Bagnoli said in a statement. “Owen was a remarkable young man, a true scholar-athlete, an ambassador for Penn, a tremendous teammate and leader on and off the field, as well as a caring and outstanding brother.”
“It is a testament to the person he was that his teammates had voted him captain for the upcoming season,” Bagnoli continued. “His loss will be felt for a long time.”
Thomas attended Parkland High School in Allentown, Pa. He was a three-year letter winner and a two-year captain in high school, according to the Penn Athletics website. He was also a member of the National Honor Society and a nominee for the High School Heisman Memorial Trophy, a prestigious award in American high school athletics.
“He always gave 100 percent, no matter what he did at all times,” Wharton senior and football teammate Chris Wynn said. “He was one of the most genuine people on our team. He was a shoo-in for captain, that goes without saying.”
College junior and football co-captain Bradford Blackmon remembered Thomas as “a fun-loving guy.”
“He made you smile because he always had a smile,” Blackmon said.
“He was the face of the University of Pennsylvania — what an underclassman should strive to be when they come into this program, in terms of his work ethic, in terms of his character, in terms of his unselfishness to the program,” Wynn said.
Thomas was born in Allentown to Katherine Brearley and Thomas Thomas, according to his Penn Athletics biography. His older brother, Matt, was also a member of the football team at Penn and graduated in 2002. His brother Morgan plays football at East Stroudsburg University in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Monday afternoon, the football team met with Counseling and Psychological Services staff, as well as the University Chaplain, the team chaplain, coaches and the Penn Athletics staff.
An information session will be held for students and other community members at the Hall of Flags in Houston Hall at noon Tuesday.
The Reach-A-Peer Helpline is available to provide support for students. RAP-Line is a helpline where trained students offer information and referrals to callers, according to RAP-Line President Lauren Mendelson, a College junior. Students can call the line at 215-573-2727 any night from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Senior staff writer David Gurian-Peck contributed reporting to this article.
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