FSU Student Found Dead After Apparent Overdose

Frostburg student Joseph Albert Hekimian was found deceased in Somerset County, Pennsylvania on Tuesday, March 1, after what police and family suspect to be a fatal drug overdose.

Hekimian, a resident of Germantown, Maryland, was an engineering major at FSU, described by his family as a “quiet, shy individual that set high goals for himself.”

Picture provided by Hekimian's family.
Picture provided by Hekimian’s family.

Hekimian’s death came as a shock to much of the campus community, with one of his professors, Mohammed Eltayeb, stating, “There was no clear indications that Joseph was having any trouble up to the time he went missing from class.” Eltayeb describes Hekimian as a polite, bright student who was a pleasure to have in class.

Interim President Tom Bowling informed the campus of Hekimian’s death on March 3 via email, including a letter from his parents, Chris and Christine Hekimian detailing their son’s substance abuse of “synthetic” drugs.

“The modern synthetic drugs that are available today and which Joe used because they were ‘legal’ changed Joe’s perceptions of risk and reality for days and maybe weeks at a time,” his parents assert. “As a result, he forgot the most important things that any young person must remember. You can always go home to the people that love you.”

Hekimian’s parents “are certain” that he obtained drugs through the internet and thanked Frostburg State University “for maintaining a good and safe school,” noting that Joseph “loved science” and “drew satisfaction” from the “high level of instruction” at FSU.

A funeral for Hekimian will be held on Monday, March 7 at Robert Pumphrey Funeral Home on West Montgomery Ave in Rockville, Maryland. Guest may arrive at noon, and there will be a short service at 1:00 p.m. The family has recommended that, in lieu of flowers or gifts, gifts may be made to any local substance abuse treatment center.

A celebration of life is being planned closer to Hekimian’s birthday in July. His parents note that “it will be a more joyful event.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug abuse, seek help from the FSU Counseling Center, open 24 hours a day and available at (301) 687-4234. Staff are also available to help those grieving Hekimian’s death.

Nick DeMichele contributed to this article. 

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