The UBC community is responding to the death of student David Huynh with outpourings of disbelief and grief.
On Saturday, the 22-year-old Abbotsford resident was with his friends at Stanley Park’s Prospect Point, the highest elevation of the park, near Lions Gate Bridge. He went missing later in the day and was found just after 6 p.m. down below on the seawall, about a 70 metre drop off the cliff.
Vancouver Police and the BC Coroners Service are still investigating the incident, but it has been deemed not suspicious.
Huynh was a double major Accounting and Finance student at the Sauder School of Business and would have started his final semester of studies in September of this year. Over the summer, he was working at KPMG as an consultant intern.
Friends, classmates and colleagues have inundated his personal Facebook page with messages of tribute since news of his death first broke yesterday afternoon. They recalled Huynh as both a model student and kind, extraordinary leader who had a major impact on both academic and student life.
In addition to his own studies, various extracurriculars and leadership activities, he was a teaching assistant for three different business courses, including his role as a lecturer for a second year Career Fundamentals course.
Those who knew him say his death was completely out of character and nothing more than a tragedy.
“He was a campus superstar, and has been described as Sauder’s golden boy. Everyone looked up to him and recognized him as a leader,” former dormmate Elisabeth Piccolo told Vancity Buzz.
“He worked incredibly hard to make things happen – there was no luck in his life, everything he achieved was through hard work. I’m never going to forget him telling me to do what makes me happy. It’s such an easy thing to lose sight of, and a beautiful way to live life.”
“His death has been a huge shock, this is an enormous loss for the entire community.”
That message was also reverberated by the UBC Commerce Undergraduate Society (CUS), which he served as a member of the Board of Directors and Co-Captain of the JDC West team.
“We cannot express David’s character any better than has been by those who are today remembering him for the incredible young man he was – optimistic, outgoing, enthusiastic, generous, and above all kind-hearted,” wrote the UBC CUS in a statement on Facebook.
Sauder classmate David Polsky said he was fortunate enough to encounter Huynh early on in his studies at UBC.
“From the moment I met him, I knew I had come across someone exceptional. He was full of life, full of energy, and truly passionate about what he did. He refused to put anything less than 110 per cent effort into anything he did.”
“The problem was that sometimes he also felt so passionately about so many different initiatives that he would take on much more than a normal student could hope to handle. But somehow David always pulled it off, and did so with a smile on his face.”
Huynh’s positive outlook on life, even when faced with adversity, led to his successes and the many close relationships he was able to build.
When asked what he will remember Huynh best for, Polsky said it would be “his ability to turn any situation into a positive one, to turn any stranger into a friend, and the deep gratitude for all those who helped him along his journey.”
Danielle Scheven met Huynh prior to university when they were in the same class together at Abbotsford’s Eugene Reimer Middle School.
Some of her most memorable achievements of Huynh during high school was on the field when he played football and rugby. He was also the valedictorian of their graduating high school class.
“I think it is safe to assume that all who loved David will remember his laugh. Impossible to explain, unmistakable and so incredibly infectious, David lit up the room when he laughed. There was no sound more joyful and carefree than when David had a good chuckle. We will all miss that sound,” said Scheven.
“When a person as memorable as David passes, it takes a long time to come to terms with it. I believe we all hold a part of him in our hearts; he has had such a profound effect on those he has met.”