March 27: St. Thomas student's death in Mexico ruled an accident

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 30, 2009 - 8:52 AM

Josh Gunderson, a Stillwater graduate attending the University of St. Thomas, fell and hit his head while on vacation in Puerto Vallarta.

The death of Josh Gunderson, a 20-year-old University of St. Thomas student who was vacationing in Mexico, appears to be accidental, an official there said Thursday.

One of Gunderson's roommates found him unconscious in their hotel bathroom early Tuesday, said Manuel Banuelos, a spokesman at the American Consulate General in Guadalajara. There isn't any indication of violence, but Mexican authorities will continue to investigate, he said.

"Josh fell and hit the back of his head, which rendered him unconscious," Banuelos said.

Gunderson, a 2007 graduate of Stillwater High School and a member of the university's club hockey team, went to Puerto Vallarta on Monday during spring break with a college classmate and her companion.

Both of those companions have returned to Minnesota, Banuelos said. An autopsy is pending.

In a written statement, Gunderson's family said they still have questions about his death and hope his traveling companions can help "put all the pieces together ... so our family can start the healing process."

"Our family is still in a great deal of shock," the statement said. "Josh was a bright light in this world and he will be truly missed by so many people. Josh had an extremely kind heart and made everyone feel special and loved."

The family has set up a memorial fund to provide opportunities for less-fortunate kids to play hockey. "We know this would make Josh happy and is a legacy he would be proud of," the family said.

Contributions can be made to the Josh Gunderson Memorial Fund at the Central Bank in Stillwater. For more information, call 651-439-3050.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Bradshaw Celebration of Life Center in Stillwater. Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Michael Catholic Church in Stillwater.

Staff writer Mary Lynn Smith contributed to this report. David Chanen • 612-673-4465

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