The body of a young Irishman was discovered in the alleyway of the hostel he was staying in on 107th Street in Manhattan on Friday morning after what police believe was an accidental fall.
Brian Forde, 22, was found lying in the back alleyway of the West Side Inn youth hostel about 9:10 a.m. on Friday, July 10 by the super of the building. Police from the 24th Precinct were called to the hostel immediately.
Forde, from Athenry, County Galway, was staying in the hostel in room 110 with seven other friends. He was apparently in the U.S. for a few weeks to play hurling and was planning to spend his last few days in the U.S. in New York with his friends.
On Thursday evening, Forde and six of his friends went on top of the roof of the eight-story building. There they drank vodka and orange juice. Recent press reports said it is common for residents of the hostel to frequent the roof for gatherings when the weather is nice.
The Irish Voice called the West Side Inn and a manager declined to comment.
According to police, Forde’s friends left the rooftop a little after midnight to go to a bar to continue the party. However, the Galway man stayed behind on the roof because he was on his cell phone to a female friend.
She reported that at 12:32 a.m. the phone went dead. An examination of Forde’s body temperature places his time of death at approximately the same time.
Forde, the second of three children, was a material technology teacher at St. Raphael’s College in Loughrea, County Galway and was on his summer vacation when he traveled to the U.S. to play hurling. It is still unclear if he played a game.
Forde won a Galway championship under-21 hurling medal in 2007 with St. Mary’s Club, an Athenry based team.
He had been heavily involved with St. Mary’s, his local GAA club, and in 2007 won a Galway championship under-21 hurling medal with the Athenry-based team.
Forde was due back in Ireland on Monday. His parents picked him up from the airport in a coffin on Tuesday.
Five of his friends, including his girlfriend who was in another part of the U.S at the time of his death, flew home to Ireland on Monday evening to be with their good friend.
An Athenry parish priest, Fr. Tony King, said the community had been left "devastated" by the accident.
“It’s a cloudy and wet day here today, but it’s certainly much darker in the hearts and spirits and emotions here because they are just absolutely devastated,” said King referring to Forde’s family.
“They are so devastated by the whole experience. They are just beyond words really.”
Although medical examinations have ruled out the possibility of foul play, officers are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Galway man’s death.
Executive director of the Aisling Irish Community Center Orla Doherty said she couldn’t stress enough to the students and young people who come to New York and the U.S. for the summer that looking out for each other is a must.
“Most people come out here with friends, so we would urge them to look out for each other,” said Doherty.
“While enjoying their summer here in New York, we would ask everybody to act responsibly rather than recklessly, particularly where alcohol and/or drugs are concerned given that they are quite often cited as a factor in many fatalities. People can have fun without putting their lives or the lives of their friends at risk.”
Doherty said that each year hundreds of young people arrive in New York for the summer months hoping to have a happy and memorable experience.
“At the same time, we dread the possibility that one of these young men and women will never again see their mom or dad or siblings back in Ireland, having lost their lives in a fatal accident or an unexpected death. It is in fact a probability rather than a possibly going by the past few years,” she said, citing the fact that each year one or more students lose their life in an accident, most of which occur when alcohol is consumed.
Doherty urges young people to be there for each other.
“If somebody is concerned about a friend's behavior or recent change in mood, they should not keep this to themselves,” she said.
“They should really see it as a duty of care to inform a member of their family if something is not quite right.”
Stating that safety in number is essential, Doherty said
“While it's easy to lose track of your friends on a night out in a crowded pub or club, we would plead with people not to travel home alone at the end of the night, even if it is only a 10 minute walk to their accommodation. We don't want any parent to get a phone call from the U.S. to say their son or daughter has died.”
Forde will be buried on Thursday at the New Cemetery in Athenry. He is survived by his parents, Michael and Kathleen, his older brother Tom and his younger sister Claire.