Daniel O'Neil

Daniel O'Neil

Hometown: Lincoln, R.I.

Age: 22

Major: Engineering

Profile: Daniel Patrick O'Neil, 22, was a student of engineering, but friends remembered the graduate student yesterday for his music and good humor.

"He was very intelligent, open-minded and talented; a naturally bright person and a renaissance man," Rob Harkness, a close friend of O'Neil's since he was a student at Lincoln High School in Lincoln, R.I., said via e-mail.

O'Neil entertained friends as a musician and singer, writing and performing songs on his acoustic guitar. He shared his folksy, haunting songs on his Web site, www.residenthippy.com, and his MySpace page.

"He was a loving and humorous person," Harkness recalled. "His character and virtuousness was unparalleled to anyone else I knew. His future held only promises of success, and he was someone to aspire to be like."

O'Neil received an undergraduate degree in civil engineering at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., last year. He enrolled at Virginia Tech to pursue graduate studies in environmental engineering.

"It is difficult to find words to express the deep sense of loss in our community," Lafayette President Daniel Weiss said in a statement. "The sympathy of all members of our College family is with this young man's family in this tragic hour."

O'Neil's family has asked not to be contacted by the media.

"He focused his life on the positive things and never took his friends and family for granted," Harkness said. "I speak for all of his friends when I say we take comfort in knowing that not a single moment has ever passed where Dan was not aware of our love for him. We now fear our own existence without him more than we fear the existence he is now in."

-- Josh Zumbrun, The Washington Post

© 2007 The Washington Post Company