A 19-year-old UC Merced student climbed to the top of a 75-foot electrical tower off North Highway 59 and used a rope to hang himself, the Merced County Sheriff's Department has determined.
The victim has been identified as Adam Wood, an undergraduate student.
Merced police discovered Wood's body about 5:50 p.m. Wednesday at the top of the tower in the 3600 block of North Highway 59. Police transferred the case to the Sheriff's Department after the location was determined to be barely outside the city limit.
UC Merced Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jane Lawrence sent an e-mail to students Thursday, saying that Wood was a biological science major who was deeply involved in campus activities, including Sigma Chi fraternity. Wood also made the Dean's List in 2009.
Wood had lived in Merced for two years and previously had lived in the Sacramento area.
"This is a very sad time for our campus and for many students who knew Adam. He will be deeply missed by the entire UC Merced community," Lawrence said.
In the note, Lawrence advised students mourning Wood to call the school's counseling service at (209) 228-4266 or go online to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wood had lived near the electrical tower where his body was found. Merced police Lt. Bimley West said Wood's friends had placed a missing persons report for him at 10:41 a.m. Monday. "They thought it was strange not seeing him," West said.
Deputy Tom Mackenzie, sheriff's spokesman, said an autopsy will be done this week. It's unknown how long Wood's body had been hanging from the tower.
West said it's not known why Wood decided to end his life, although he had attempted suicide on at least two prior occasions.
Managing Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or email@example.com.