Maine college student found dead as authorities investigate cause

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A college student was found dead in a parking lot Sunday near the Frank J. Woods Bridge in Topsham, Maine, according to officials.

Topsham Police said the victim was a 20-year-old woman from California who was attending Bowdoin College. Police did not release the woman’s name, but Bowdoin College President Safa Zaki released a statement identifying the student as Qingyang Zhan.

Police responded around 7 a.m. Sunday morning to a report of a deceased person located in the parking lot at 2 Main St.

The woman’s body has been transported to the Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy to be conducted. Officials are awaiting the results.

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Bowdoin’s campus covered in fresh snow on Tuesday, January 8, 2019. (Staff photo by Brianna Soukup/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

The incident remains under investigation, but police said they do not believe there is a threat to the public.

Zaki’s statement notified the campus community of the death of Zhan, who was otherwise known as K, WMTW reported. Zhan, born in Shanghai, China, has lived in the U.S. since 2019. She went to school in California before starting at Bowdoin College in the fall of 2021.

“Faculty members describe K as a bright and engaging presence, and many will remember her warmth and kindness,” Zaki wrote. Her academic advisor, Jean Yarbrough — the Gary M. Pendy Sr. Professor of Social Sciences — described K as a student who was “deeply interested in the most important theological and philosophical questions.”

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Topsham Police vehicle

The victim was identified as 20-year-old Qingyang Zhan. (Topsham Police)

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“K’s death is a devastating tragedy for her parents, her brother, other loved ones, and also for her friends, classmates, and our entire Bowdoin community,” Zaki added. “This news is very difficult to process, especially since we do not yet know the circumstances of K’s death. Please take care of yourselves and of others and take advantage of the opportunities to come together.”

The college is offering extended counseling hours for students this week following Zhan’s death.

“Like so many of you, I am heartbroken and shocked,” Zaki wrote. “There really are no adequate words to convey how devastating this loss is for our community. I know you join me in extending heartfelt condolences to K’s family.”

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