A local university student who died at a Mexican resort this month was a potential leader in the mining industry, says his former professor.
Christopher Mark Rogers of St. Albert died Jan. 5 while on vacation at the Great Parnassus Resort and Spa in Cancun, Mexico, after he fell from a second-storey balcony. He was 21.
The events leading up to the fall are unclear, said Tim Joseph, a professor of mining engineering at the University of Alberta who taught Rogers for three years. Mexican media reports suggested that there may have been a fight or that Rogers had been hallucinating, but neither Joseph nor his students believe them.
“He’s the last person who’d ever be in a troublesome situation,” Joseph said. “His classmates have all said to me … ‘this isn’t Chris. This is not the person we’re remembering.’”
The Canadian consulate is still investigating and hasn’t told the family any details, said Rogers’ uncle John Ross.
“I believe we’ll never know the exact circumstances,” he said.
The family is deeply shaken, Ross continued, and is working on the healing process.
“They’ve just lost their boy. It’s a horrible, horrible thing,” he said.
Rogers’ classmates were stunned when they learned the news Monday, Joseph said.
“We sat for about two hours with the students without a word,” he said.
A fourth-year student in the U of A’s mining engineering program, Rogers was remembered by his family as an avid reader with a passion for math and science.
Rogers graduated from Bellerose Composite High School in 2009. Former principal George Mentz said he remembered Rogers as a hard-working student who was never in the office for any “negative reason.”
“He’d have his circle of friends and they’d be chatting and laughing,” he said. “He was a really nice kid.
Rogers was a studious, straight-A student, Joseph said, the kind of person who would move closer to the podium if his classmates were too noisy.
“He was probably, if not the top, almost at the top of his class,” he said, and was likely in line for several awards.
Joseph remembered Rogers as a kind, honest individual who never had a bad thing to say about anyone. He loved hockey and was a frequent participant in local hockey tournaments.
“He was always wearing his hockey jersey,” Joseph said.
He was close with many of his classmates, and had been organizing their grad dinner.
Rogers was always front-and-centre for anything the family did, Ross said, recalling how he was running around playing hide and seek with his little cousins last year at the family cabin in Saskatchewan.
“These kids absolutely adored Chris,” he said.
Tributes to Rogers poured into a Facebook memorial page set up by his high-school friends.
“He always was so generous with his time for people,” wrote Jen Shukalek. “Chris, you will be terribly and dearly missed.”
Joseph said he would always remember Rogers dressed in a business suit addressing a panel of industry bigwigs in class – a consummate professional engineer.
“He had an incredible career ahead of him.”
Top industry officials had pegged Rogers as a potential leader in the mining industry, Joseph said.
“Our industry has lost a great person before he even started.”
Some 500 people might show up to Rogers’s funeral on Monday, Ross said.
“This kid touched a lot of people,” he said.
Rogers is survived by his parents, Dave and Pam, brothers Mathew and Cory, and numerous relatives.
A burial mass will be held at the Holy Family Catholic Church in St. Albert on Jan. 14 at 11 a.m.
Donations can be made to the Christopher Rogers Memorial Fund at the University of Alberta. Condolences can be sent through www.connelly-mckinley.com