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No evidence of excessive drinking in Bona death

There was some drinking at an off-campus party where a 19-year-old St. Bonaventure University sophomore died early Sunday morning, but investigators haven't found any evidence of "out-of-control" drinking, police said Monday.

An autopsy was performed Monday on the body of Matthew R. Dungan, a business major and rugby player from the Town of Tonawanda. A ruling on the cause of death was not immediately made and is awaiting the results of toxicology tests.

"The cause is going to remain pending, until all leads have been exhausted and we know the toxicology results," State Police Lt. John C. Aquilina said.

Investigators say they have found evidence of some drinking at the party.

"It was a small gathering of students," Aquilina said. "They were watching sports on ESPN, and all of a sudden, [Dungan] stopped breathing."

Other students called 911 and tried to administer CPR, while one student went outside and managed to attract the attention of an Allegany village police officer.

Aquilina was asked how much drinking was going on at the party, which was attended by 10 to 20 students, according to various sources.

"There was no evidence that this was an out-of-control party," Aquilina replied. "It was not a gathering where people were highly intoxicated or passed out or causing a public nuisance, at least as far as our investigation shows."

Investigators are not saying whether they think Dungan -- or anyone else underage -- was drinking.

As they await the results of the toxicology tests, police plan to keep tracking any leads and take their findings to the Cattaraugus County District Attorney's Office, which will determine whether any criminal charges are warranted.

"At this point, we're not making any arrests," Aquilina said. "We want to be thorough in our investigation, and we want to have all the facts."

State Police based in Olean are asking anyone with more information about the incident to call them at 373-2552.

Campus officials, who held a memorial service for Dungan in the university chapel Monday evening, said they have not begun to look at the possibility of disciplining any students over possible drinking in the off-campus apartment.

"Our primary goal now is to support his friends, the campus community and his family," university spokesman Thomas Missel said Monday.

Dungan, who transferred in the fall from Niagara University and already had become popular on campus, became the third person associated with St. Bonaventure to die unexpectedly this month.

On Jan. 3, Matthew J. Martinelli, a senior journalism and mass communication major from Andover who wanted to become a sports journalist, died from respiratory failure, according to the Bona Venture newspaper. He had battled muscular dystrophy.

Two weeks later, on Jan. 16, Joseph C. Faircloth, 53, a union steward and former volunteer firefighter from Lackawanna, was killed in a two-vehicle crash on Route 219 in Ellicottville while driving his freshman son back to St. Bonaventure.

The following Sunday, Dungan died.

"It's been a tough three weeks," Missel said. "A place that's this close-knit in our Franciscan tradition, to have three incidents like this within three weeks is hard to deal with."

That same close-knit feeling, he added, has helped the St. Bonaventure community deal with all three tragedies. It feels, he said, "like you've lost members of your own family."

e-mail: gwarner@buffnews.com

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