Friends search for answers in Dartmouth student's death - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Friends search for answers in Dartmouth student's death

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The flag at Dartmouth College is flying at half staff as the community mourns the loss of 24-year-old Mike Lomakin.

"All I really have now are positive memories and that's probably what I should be focusing on," said Spencer Hatch, a classmate of Lomakin.

But for Hatch there are still too many questions surrounding his close friend's mysterious death. "Doesn't add up," he said, shaking his head.

State police discovered the graduate student's body in the southbound lane of Interstate 91 early Saturday morning. They believe he was run-over by at least two cars. Those drivers told police they thought he was an animal lying in the roadway. As investigators search for the initial car that may have hit Lomakin, his professors and friends are left grieving and wondering what led to his death.

"The faculty of course are shocked because it's almost like the students are our children and so it's difficult to deal with," said Robert Caldwell, a professor of physics and astronomy.

Lomakin graduated from the University of Massachusetts and was recruited to pursue a masters in physics at Dartmouth. He was one of 14 first year students -- and many of his colleagues say he was one of the brightest.

"He had come to us really well recommended so we had great hopes for him," Caldwell said.

"Outdoors and physics and that was kind of Mike," Hatch said.

Now a single ivory candle burns in his memory outside Wilder Hall. His classmates are working with police to create a timeline of Lomakin's final hours. They say the last time they saw him was at a small party Friday night and they're baffled by his death.

"I don't think any of us know like what the heck was he doing on the interstate. No one knows. I don't think," Hatch said.

Police refused to speak to us on camera or answer any questions about the investigation, but his friends hope they'll find some answers for Lomakin's loved ones.

"His family I feel like are the ones that need the prayers and the answers most of all because he was their little boy. He was an only child if I'm not mistaken," Hatch said.

"The physics graduate students will be holding a candlelight vigil for Lomakin Monday night at 6:30 outside of WIlder Hall on campus.

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