GMIT statement: Tragic death of two students in Belgium

Friday, January 31, 2014 Press Office
Press Release

Funerals of two GMIT students to take place in their home countries

GMIT offers deepest sympathies to the families of two GMIT students, 22 year old Dace Zarina from Longford and 19 year old Sara Gibadlo from Oranmore, Galway, both of whom died tragically following a fire at a residence in the Belgian city of Leuven on Friday morning, 31 January 2014.


The funerals of Dace and Sara are to take place in their home countries of Latvia and Poland, respectively, later this week.


GMIT has opened a Book of Condolences in the main Galway campus and a service will take place in GMIT to commemorate the two GMIT students.


Dace and Sara were both second year students studying a Bachelor of business degree in Hotel and Catering Management in GMIT’s main Galway campus. They had just commenced a 30 week Erasmus work placement in the ‘Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe’ in January. They were the only two GMIT students on placement in the Belgian college.


GMIT students and staff are still coming to terms with the tragedy. Many of their classmates are on placement in different European locations and were informed of the tragic news by the college authorities on Friday afternoon. Some 400 GMIT students from the College of Tourism & Arts go on work placements every academic year.


Head of the GMIT College of Tourism and Arts Cait Noone says “GMIT is devastated. Dace and Sara were very talented creative young students. It’s a huge loss.”


GMIT has a long established working relationship with the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe. GMIT students have been going on placement to the Belgian college for at least six years.