A group of students gathered on a beach in southern Thailand last week. They created a circle of shells on the white sand and then lit a fire in the center. The students wrote messages on slips of paper and threw them into the flames.
While their messages burned, they remembered their friend Lynn Andrew Bensinger, an LSA senior who had died a few days earlier. He was 25.
Bensinger was participating in the University of California at Santa Barbara’s three-month Thailand Ecosystems and Cultures Project. Bensinger, a biology major and environmental studies minor, was studying in Thailand to earn credits for graduation.
While traveling by train from Bangkok to the island of Phuket on Feb. 8, Bensinger leaned out of a window and was struck by a pole. He was knocked out of the train.
No one noticed he had disappeared until the next morning, when he didn’t appear for breakfast. Project leader Chris Carpenter became worried and notified the staff aboard the train. Later that day, his body was found near the railroad tracks.
The American Embassy in Bangkok called Bensinger’s parents shortly afterward to inform them that their son had died.
On Jan. 1, just one day before flying to Thailand, Bensinger, a native of Dexter, Mich., attended his second Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Cal. Bensinger was a sports fan, playing intramural flag football and working at the Central Campus Recreation Building and Intramural Sports Building, said Lynn Edward Bensinger, his father.
“He always loved Michigan sports,” Bensinger said.
The elder Bensinger said his son loved the outdoors. During the summer, he spent time sailing and fishing near his house on Cape Cod with his younger brother, Nicholas. He loved adventure and had traveled to Alaska.
In his free time, Andrew Bensinger volunteered for the Reach America program in Detroit, where he visited local elementary schools and read to students.
“He just loved Michigan,” said Jennifer Bensinger, his mother. “It was always his dream to go there.”
Bensinger planned to graduate in May and was considering applying to medical school.
“It is just such a tragedy,” said Cheryl Brauer, a friend of the family who has known him since birth. “He was on the brink of so many new and exciting things.”
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Andrew’s United Church of Christ in Dexter.