FAYETTEVILLE - A University of Arkansas student-athlete, Garrett Uekman, was found unconscious and unresponsive in his room in the Northwest Quad residence hall at approximately 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20. Emergency medical crews were called but attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at Washington Regional Medical Center on Sunday afternoon.
Garrett Uekman (pronounced Eck-man), 19, from Little Rock, was a sophomore majoring in applied exercise science in the College of Education and Health Professions. He was a redshirt freshman on the Arkansas Razorback football team, where he played tight end. He had played in nine games during the current football season.
University Police Lt. Matt Mills said that the cause of Uekman's death is not known at this time, but there are no suspicious circumstances. Uekman was last seen playing video games by a roommate at about 10:15 a.m. and appeared to be in good health. Another roommate found him unconscious about an hour later. Emergency services were called at 11:17 a.m., and the first responders were on the scene at 11:20 a.m. Uekman was in cardiac arrest when responders arrived and was pronounced dead at approximately 12:10 p.m. at Washington Regional Medical Center.
The Washington County Coroner will send Uekman's body to the State Medical Examiner for an autopsy. Lt. Mills said this is standard procedure for any unattended death.
Uekman's parents, Danny and Michelle Uekman, were contacted when their son was being taken to the hospital, and Jeff Long, the director of athletics, Bobby Petrino, the head football coach and Danny Pugh, the dean of students and vice provost for academic affairs, met with them to offer their condolences and support when they arrived in Fayetteville.
Members of the Razorback football team met at 1:30 on Sunday afternoon with Pugh, Long and Petrino, and were told of Uekman's death. Counselors were available at the meeting to talk with the student-athletes.
"Garrett's loss is a terrible shock for the University of Arkansas and the Razorback program," Long said. "Our sincere condolences go out to his family and to all of those who knew him. He will be missed by many friends, teammates and others throughout campus. The well-being of our student-athletes is at the very core of our mission and when a tragedy like this happens it is a tremendous loss to the entire campus community. We will work with various campus services to provide support for the Uekman family, our student-athletes, coaches and staff during this difficult time."
"The loss of a student is always hard on the university community," Pugh said. "Garrett Uekman was known both as a student and as an athlete, and consequently his loss touches many people within and outside of campus. We extend our sincere condolences to his family, his friends, his fellow students, and his teachers and coaches. He and they remain in our thoughts and prayers."
"Garrett Uekman was a special member of our family, and we are all saddened by his passing," Petrino said. "His loss is a terrible shock, and it makes you realize how precious life is. Garrett was a great teammate and loved being a Razorback. My sympathies are with his entire family during this incredibly trying time, and I share in their grief. Our team will honor and show our respect to Garrett."
The Uekmans' released this statement through the university:
"Our son was living his dream of going to the U of A and playing football for the Razorbacks. He loved his school, his coaches, and his teammates and classmates, and was an influence and inspiration to so many people. We ask for your love and prayers for Garrett, our family and his friends as we all cope with this heavy and painful loss. Meanwhile, we ask for respect and privacy during this time of grief."
Garrett Uekman was a graduate of Little Rock Catholic High School.
On Monday, Nov. 21, more than 2,800 members of the University of Arkansas and Razorback communities joined together to honor Uekman's memory with a candlelight vigil at Bud Walton Arena. Organized by the Associated Student Government, the program included remarks from Chancellor G. David Gearhart, Coach Petrino, football student-athlete Austin Tate and Pugh.
Near the conclusion of the service, the Uekman family helped start the spread of the flame from a single candle to the candles of all those in attendance as a tribute.