Investigation into death of American student in Rome

Investigators try to piece together student's final hours

A police investigation is underway into the death of John Durkin, a 21-year-old American student who died in a railway tunnel in Rome in the early hours of 20 February.

Durkin was an economics student in a study-abroad programme in Rome and was last seen by his friends at around 01.30 on 20 February at a Campo de' Fiori bar popular with American students.

He was reported missing and a search was launched by his friends and family via Twitter and Facebook. At 07.00 on 20 February a body was recovered from a railway tunnel between S. Pietro and Trastevere, after being hit by a train. The body was subsequently identified as Durkin.

Investigators are now using footage from street cameras to try and piece together the last few hours of Durkin's life. Many questions remain unanswered in the case which is being followed by the US embassy in Rome as well as the major news networks in America.

Although it is not clear yet if Durkin had consumed alcohol on the night he died, the case has reignited the debate in Rome about excessive drinking among young people, many of them foreigners, facilitated by cut-price alcohol and pub crawls in the capital.

It has drawn inevitable comparisons to the case of another 21-year-old American who fell to his death from the wall above Ponte Sisto last June, or the 19-year-old Australian who was found dead on the banks of the Tiber in 2009 after taking part in an organised pub crawl.