Missing student found dead in Madrid

by Holly Pablo

Austin Bice (left). Photo courtesy of Facebook.com
Austin Bice (left). Photo courtesy of Facebook.com

Authorities in Spain discovered the body of San Diego State student Austin Bice yesterday, 10 days after he went missing in Madrid. Bice’s body was pulled from the Manzanares River, near the nightclub where he was last seen.

The cause of death is unknown but an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday, according to SDSU media relations manager Gina Jacobs. It is not known when the results will be released.

The 22-year-old international business senior and graduate of Torrey Pines High School had been participating in a study abroad program at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in Spain since January.

Roommates last saw Bice in the morning hours of Feb. 26 and reported his disappearance when he did not return home.

“The San Diego State campus is saddened by this tragic news which confirms our worst fears,” SDSU President Stephen L. Weber said in a statement. “Our thoughts this morning are with Austin’s family and friends who have our deepest sympathies.”

More than 150 students, parents and teachers gathered for a candlelight vigil at the Free Speech Steps on Monday. Organizers passed out candles and black and red ribbons with “Bice” written on them to symbolize his school spirit. Attendees shared a moment of silence and exchanged words of hope for his safe return.

“Every time you saw him, he was smiling,” SDSU sophomore and high school friend Tony Cinotto said. “When he walked into a room, he would brighten it up with his presence.”

Bice played football throughout high school and was also on the SDSU team during his freshman year in college. His fervor for life made him a role model for those around him, Cinatto said.

High school sweetheart Alexis Gompf spoke to Bice less than a week before he went missing. Gompf said he was having a blast in Spain and studying abroad was something he wanted to do for a long time.

“I didn’t know him but the Bice family needs to know that we’re here for them,” junior psychology major Rico Romero said. “He’s part of our SDSU family and that’s not supposed to happen when students are studying abroad. This is every parent’s worst nightmare.”

Cinotto said the support showed the sense of community at SDSU.

Organizers passed around donation boxes to raise money for the search efforts.

“For students who don’t know him, you’ll be able to cross paths with him and hopefully you’ll be able to smile, say hi and know that you helped bring him back,” Gompf said. “He’d go out of his way to bring any one of us back. That’s the kind of person he is.”

Students who need help coping with this tragedy are encouraged to contact Counseling and Psychological Services at 619-594-5220 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. They will be able to speak with a counselor the same day.