St. Joseph's University student found dead in Bermuda following intense search

ByJosh Ball AP logo
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Loved ones mourn SJU freshman
Loved ones mourn SJU freshman. Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News Mornings on March 20, 2018.

A St. Joseph's University student who disappeared following a rugby tournament in Bermuda was found dead Monday after an intensive search of the British island territory.

Searchers found the body of Mark Dombroski, 19, at the base of a colonial-era fort in a park not far from where he was last seen walking by himself on CCTV footage, officials with the Bermuda Police Service said at a news conference.

A cause of death was not released but forensic experts were still processing the scene where his body was found and an autopsy was planned, said Acting Commissioner James Howard.

SJU student found dead in Bermuda: Jeff Cherico reports on Action News at 11 p.m., March 19, 2018

"Bermuda Police Service extends our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends," Howard said after a day of searching that included local authorities, volunteers and Dombroski's family.

Dombroski was a member of the rugby team at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia and had come to Bermuda to compete in a tournament. He disappeared early Sunday, with video footage showing him walking alone and looking at his phone as he left a bar where his friends had gathered.

He was found at the base of Fort Prospect in a wooded area known as the Arboretum and near an athletic center where the team had played during the tournament.

Dombroski's family rushed to the island to join the search and retrace his steps.

"We dearly love our son, we cherish our son. ... We want him back," his mother, Lisa Dombroski, said at a news conference with police officials. "We thank the citizens of Bermuda. People have been with us shoulder to shoulder throughout this ordeal."

Search for missing St. Joe's student. Matt O'Donnell reports during Action News Mornings on March 19, 2018.

Detective Sgt. Jason Smith said there's no evidence Dombroski was drunk, or that alcohol played a role in his disappearance.

Lisa Dombroski speculated her son, who had hurt his shoulder in a game that day and wasn't feeling well, had simply wanted to call it a night. She said the surveillance footage showed him favoring his arm.

"He wasn't in a celebratory kind of mood," Lisa Dombroski said. "He wanted to get back."

Within hours of the news of Dombroski's death, friends and relatives gathered to pray at Nativity BVM church in Media.

Consoling each other with hugs, they remembered the young man who both worshipped and attended grade school at the parish.

"He was an overall really nice guy," said friend Jessica Warrington. "We're all upset about it and can't believe it. We're so distraught about it."

The university issued the following statement Monday evening:

The Saint Joseph's University community is heartbroken tonight to learn from the Bermuda Police Services (BPS) in Hamilton that student Mark Dombroski has died.

We extend our deepest sympathies to the Dombroski family along with Mark's teammates, classmates and friends.

Saint Joseph's students in need of counseling or ministry have been informed of available services.

The circumstances of Mark's death are still under investigation by the BPS.

During this difficult time, we ask for your understanding and that you respect the privacy of Mark's family and friends.

SJU student found dead in Bermuda: John Rawlins reports on Action News at 6 p.m., March 19, 2018


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