An Oxford student has died after a tragic accident in southwest France on Wednesday afternoon. His two friends, also from Oxford, tried but were unable to save him.
The victim was 24 year old American Kojo Owusu Minta, who was Vice-President of the St Hilda’s College MCR last academic year. He had just completed an MPhil in History at St Hilda’s and was due to begin a DPhil at Lincoln in Michaelmas.
The three students were part of a group of a dozen Americans and Britons staying at a cottage in a nearby village. They had spent the day on the banks of the Gave d’Oleron near Dognen in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques, when Minta lost his footing and was swept away by the current.
His two friends were unable to catch up with the current and soon lost sight of him. After another British tourist on the other side of the river alerted the emergency services, he was located downstream by a rescue helicopter.
A fire department doctor attempted for over an hour to resuscitate him but was unsuccessful.
The tragedy is said to have shaken the small town of Dognen, as the area of the river is reportedly popular for swimming with tourists and locals alike. The site is generally considered safe, with no previous history of accidents.
Dr Georgina Paul, Tutor for Graduates at St Hilda’s, told Cherwell this week: ‘The College is feeling the loss of Kojo Minta very sorely. He was a man of style and panache, a great personality in the College community, and it is impossible to comprehend how someone so dynamic could have had his life cut short in this way.
‘But he was also a man of quiet good works and deep convictions, and I think all of us are feeling the strength of that legacy: his love of the Bible and of Milton, his work not just for the College, but for the University’s Race Equality Steering Group, and with the African Books Collective amongst other activities.
‘He had just attained a Distinction in his History MPhil and had the funding to continue on to his DPhil. His supervisors have written to me of his academic promise and energy and their shock, too, at his loss. This tragic accident has robbed the University of a talented mind as well as taking from all of us a very fine and special man. Kojo will for ever be remembered at St Hilda’s.’
A memorial webpage in honour of Kojo Owusu Minta can be found here: http://www.forevermissed.com/kojo-minta.