Brown University student dies after hiking accident in Morocco

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — A Brown University student died Monday after a tragic accident while visiting Africa earlier this month.

On April 1, John Owen Habib was hiking with friends in Morocco when tragedy struck. The 21-year-old fell and broke his spine, both of his femurs and his ankle.

His injuries were so severe he was in a coma for several days, before dying in a Moroccan hospital on Monday.

The family had been raising money to get Habib back to the United States to be treated for his injuries before he ultimately died Monday. A GoFundMe fundraiser created by his brother, Jordan Habib, has received more than $200,000 in donations.

 

“To say we were distraught, that would be a severe understatement,” Jordan said, speaking to ABC 6 News from his hotel room in Morocco. “I mean, we were all at a loss.”

Monday, Jordan told ABC 6, after more than a week of struggling to find a way to get John home, the Habib family finally secured transportation for him back to the U.S. He was set to get on a flight back home Tuesday.

Moments later, however, they learned John had died.

“That was his way of telling us we have done all we can and that his time had come,” Jordan said.

His death stunned family and friends back home.

“It doesn’t make sense. I haven’t comprehended that he’s gone. I can’t think about it,” said John Perik, a childhood friend of John.

Perik and John went to Portsmouth Abbey together. Perik, now a junior at Syracuse University, called John the brightest soul in every room, adding he always lived in the moment and always strived for the best in himself and others.

“I never had a bad moment with him,” Perik said. “There was never a moment where I was frustrated with him or mad at him.”

His brother, Jordan wrote on his Gofundme page, “John Owen was joy and curiosity personified. He celebrated his friends, challenged and encouraged them to be better people; to dare more, to try harder, and to treat themselves and others with grace and respect.”

Along with the thousands of donations received since starting the fundraiser, hundreds of people have also left comments on the page, describing fond memories of John, an act the family says has played a part in their healing process.

“He’s touched the lives of so many people,” Jordan said. “The messages I’ve read through emails of stories that people have shared. I have not made it through a single one without crying”

Jordan also said they plan to continue raising money in John’s honor, and will soon create a foundation in his name to give kids that love to learn and explore as he loved to do the opportunity to do so.

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