Editor-in-Chief for the
Liberty Champion newspaper
November 11, 2014
STUDENT TRAGICALLY KILLED
Jon Gregoire, a 21-year-old Liberty University senior, died Saturday, Nov. 8 around 4 p.m. after being struck by an oncoming train on a trestle behind Riverside Park in Lynchburg. Friends remember the senior’s upbeat personality. Gregoire, of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, was majoring in Business Administration: Marketing with a certificate in Bible, according to a university news release. Gregoire also served as a prayer leader and was planning to become a missionary, the release stated.
“Jon will be terribly missed by so many at Liberty University,” President Jerry Falwell said in a statement released Sunday evening. “He was known and loved for his adventurous spirit and his spiritual depth. … His last Facebook post on Oct. 30 reflected on how God and Jesus Christ gave life its ultimate meaning. The Gregoire family will be held up in prayer by the entire Liberty University community.”
According to Samuel Dye, an RA on floor six of the Commons Dorm where Gregoire lived, Gregoire was a godly friend and mentor who left an impact on many people in the Liberty community.
“He was just such an encouragement to me,” Dye said. “I was his RA, but I looked up to him spiritually. He loved God so much. He loved people. … He was an incredible guy. … Anyone that knows Jon knows that he is legitimately one of the nicest people you’re ever gonna meet.”
Dye said Gregoire showed genuine care for everyone around him and showed Christ-like love.
“Everyone that I’ve talked to absolutely loved the guy, because he loved them, and he made that very clear through his actions, through his words,” Dye said. “… I’m never gonna forget him. I’m never gonna move on from him. I’m always gonna remember the way he loved people, the way that he just made people feel special. Every person, he made them feel important and special and loved. And that’s something that I want to emulate, because he’s emulating Christ.”
Junior Scotty Schafer, who was a member of Gregoire’s prayer group, explained Gregoire’s influence as he served on hall leadership.
“The fact that Jon spent his junior year off campus and moved back onto campus this year feeling that God wanted him to come back on campus as a prayer leader means a lot to me,” Schafer said. “I think it shows that Jon was really looking for God’s direction in his life, and he wanted to serve (God) and do what God wanted him to do. … Jon was, I think, what every prayer leader could be and should be. He was intentional. He cared about us. He loved us. He led by example.”
In addition to serving as a prayer leader, Schafer said Gregoire always looked for ways to encourage others.
“Jon was very outgoing,” Schafer said. “… He was very focused on … trying to say hello to everyone. He was good at remembering people’s names. He smiled a lot. He interacted a lot with a bunch of people in great ways, particularly with guys on the hall.”
Schafer added that seeing Gregoire’s example of love for God pushed him to strive after the Lord in the same way.
“If I could live half of how Jon lived, I feel like I could be content. I feel like I would be serving Jesus well, ” Schafer said. “… If I loved Jesus half as much as Jon loved Jesus, I feel like I’m doing pretty good.”
Freshman Isaac Shubert III, who was also a member of Gregoire’s prayer group, affirmed that Gregoire became more than just a hall mate to the men of Floor Six.
“Jon was a man after God’s heart,” Shubert said. “… When I saw him, I thought, ‘That’s what I wanna do. That’s what I want to be.’ … He did things a brother would do, not just as a friend. He went past a friendship. He saw me as his little brother, took care of me, made sure I was OK, always checked on me, gave me inspirational phrases or inspirational words from scripture. … I respected him a whole lot.”
The men and women who lived on Gregoire’s floor held a special worship session Sunday night, Nov. 9 to honor Jon and support one another in the grieving process.
Gregoire’s parents flew in to participate in a candlelight vigil, which was held at 8 p.m. Monday at the front steps of DeMoss Hall.
According to the Liberty news release, the Campus Pastors team is currently meeting with students affected by the tragedy, and counseling is available through Liberty’s Student Counseling Services.
Victoria Bridges, a 21 year old from Newport News, Virginia, received minor injuries in the accident. Bridges was released from Lynchburg General Hospital by 11 a.m. Sunday after being airlifted immediately following the event, according to an article in the News & Advance. Bridges was not a Liberty student.
Although it is unclear how many others were with Gregoire and Bridges at the time, no one else was injured.
Saturday’s accident marks the second train-related death of a Liberty student in the past three years. In November of 2011, freshman Hannah Williams was struck and killed by a train at the same trestle.