Coroner rules Dombroski death an accident

  • Mark Dombroski

    Mark Dombroski

An American university rugby player’s death in Bermuda last year was the result of an accident or misadventure, a coroner’s inquest ruled yesterday.

Coroner Maxanne Anderson extended her “sincere condolences” to the family, friends and team-mates of Mark Dombroski “who I am sure have suffered extreme stress and a great loss”.

She said: “It is clear that Mark was a talented, outgoing and generally nice person with lots of friends, who loved his family.”

Ms Anderson was speaking as she delivered an eight-page written verdict after a two-day inquest last month into the death of the 19-year-old Philadelphia student.

Mr Dombroski’s body was found in the dry moat at Fort Prospect, near police headquarters, on March 19, 2018.

He went missing a day and a half earlier after he left a Hamilton bar alone after a night out with friends.

Mr Dombroski was in Bermuda with a team from St Joseph’s University to play in the Ariel Re Bermuda International Sevens tournament. Ms Anderson said she accepted the findings of Christopher Milroy, a Canadian forensic pathologist.

Dr Milroy said last March that a post-mortem examination found that Mr Dombroski died from a fall and that there was no evidence of foul play.

Lisa and John Dombroski, the student’s parents, said last night it was “hard to say” whether or not they believed the verdict was the right one, although it was what they expected.

They added that the verdict had not brought closure for the family.

They said: “Not at this point. It is very tough as the first anniversary looms ahead of us.”

The couple thanked Bermudians for their prayers and support.

They added: “We have terrible pain and grief, but faith that God is always there, loving, comforting and strengthening us.”

Mr and Mrs Dombroski said: “Mark was full of life, love, fun and faith, devoted to family, friends, and team-mates.

“We’ve received many heartfelt, touching letters from friends describing how he was always there for them. They fill a three-ring binder.”

The couple described their son as a “terrific athlete” who won 12 awards in six sports over “his too-short life”.

They added: “We carry Mark’s legacy forward by trying to live as he did — reaching out to others and being friendly, kind and inclusive. Through the Mark Dombroski Foundation, we are helping young people be happy, safe, and cared for.”

The inquest heard testimony from several of the rugby player’s friends, as well as investigators. Jack Heffernan, a team-mate, told police that Mr Dombroski had been in a bad mood because of problems with his girlfriend.

Andrew Sullivan, another player, said that his friend was “happy” and “excited” when he saw him at the Dog House bar on Hamilton’s Front Street

He added Mr Dombroski’s mood had changed over the course of the night. CCTV footage played at the inquest showed Mr Dombroski’s movements from the time he arrived at the Dog House.

He was later captured on several cameras as he walked along Front Street towards East Broadway.

Detective Constable Christopher Sabaean testified that in all of the CCTV videos he viewed “there is no one behind” Mr Dombroski.

The student was last captured on a motion-activated camera on Alexandra Road in Devonshire at about 1.30am.

The inquest heard that alcohol and cannabis were found in Mr Dombroski’s urine at the post mortem examination.

A spokesman for the Bermuda Police Service said yesterday that Mr Dombroski’s death was a “tragic accident that greatly impacted the Dombroski family, and, indeed, the whole community”.

He added: “We continue to extend our sincere condolences to the friends and family of Mark Dombroski. Hopefully, the coroner’s findings will bring some closure to the matter.”

The spokesman said that police had conducted a “thorough, professional investigation”.

More information about work being carried out in Mark Dombroski’s memory can be found at It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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