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Former Staples student, Cameron Bruce (above left), died yesterday while at college at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada. He is shown in A Wedding Story. (Staples Players photo/Staples Players photo)
Former Staples student, Cameron Bruce (above left), died yesterday while at college at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada. He is shown in A Wedding Story. (Staples Players photo/Staples Players photo)

Model student was excited to start at Queen's Add to ...

The first-year engineering student who died mysteriously on the Queen's University campus had arrived in Kingston pumped to partake in the school's well known frosh-week festivities.

But Cameron Bruce was a bit different than the average freshman party animal. In his hometown of Westport, Conn., the 18-year-old was regarded as an accomplished musician and swimmer, an enthusiastic volunteer with impeccable manners. He was the rare kind of kid who wins the admiration of fellow teens and adults alike.

Ian Winick, a third-year Queen's student and fellow native of Westport, said Mr. Bruce was keen to embrace the spirit of his new university.

"He was very excited to start. I haven't talked to him much, but I know he was looking forward to having fun," said Mr. Winick, a 20-year-old biology student who worked with Mr. Bruce at a museum in Westport over the summer.

"I don't know him to be an outrageous partier. He was a fun guy but he wasn't out of control."

Mr. Bruce's father, Iain, was a Queen's alumnus, helping to inspire the younger Bruce to attend. The elder Mr. Bruce was raised in Canada and Greenwich, Conn., graduated with a commerce degree from Queen's in 1981 and now sits on the Queen's business school advisory board. Queen's officials would not confirm his role or comment on it.

Mr. Bruce is managing director of risk management at AMBAC Assurance Corp., a financial services company based in New York, and is also a prominent resident of Westport, where he presides over the board of directors of the local YMCA.

While friends of all ages from Westport rushed to pay tribute Tuesday to the young trumpeter, athlete and model student and employee, Kingston police, officials at Queen's and the school's engineering society revealed few of the circumstances of his death. His body was found Monday morning on the lawn outside Victoria Hall, a sprawling six-storey residence on campus.

Late Tuesday, Kingston police Constable Mike Menor said the autopsy results have led investigators to conclude foul play is not suspected. He would give no further details, other than to say the investigation continues. Police said it was still unclear whether it was an accident or a suicide. Detective Nancy McDonald, an investigator on the case, said she was still waiting for a toxicology report to determine what caused his death.

Police have started to piece together the young man's final hours, but said there are still gaps.

"We're trying to fill in some of the blanks and get an accurate timeline," Det. McDonald said.

On campus Tuesday, students told reporters they'd heard the young man had died after falling from the window of his dorm room.

Queen's issued a statement saying students were being provided with counselling and "there is no indication that the residence and campus communities are at risk."

The official frosh-week program had ended on the weekend. While students reported less rowdiness than in previous years, police still handed out dozens of tickets for public drinking and intoxication as students, many painted in the school's traditional purple, drank excessively. Queen's has a history of excessive drinking and raucous behaviour at student gatherings such as frosh week and homecoming.

Mr. Bruce's friends in the United States anxiously waited to hear what went wrong.

"I know frosh week is fun to the max over there, and that engineering students are a breed unto themselves. I hope that doesn't have anything to do with it," said Alan Winick. Mr. Winick, the director of education programs at the Connecticut Discovery Museum and Planetarium, employed both his son, Ian, and Mr. Bruce over the summer.

"I know him well enough to say it would be uncharacteristic for him to be out of control."

Former schoolmate Emily Messina described Mr. Bruce as a young man "who could always see the bright side of everything. He had the ability to warm up a room of people he might not even know.

"He was the life of the party, in the sense that everyone was his friend."

A funeral is planned for Saturday in Westport. Mr. Bruce's family is also planning a memorial service over Thanksgiving so friends studying far away can attend.

With a report from Adrian Morrow

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