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NWC student dies in fall at Denver hotel

An international student attending Northwest College died early Tuesday morning when he fell off a balcony at a Denver hotel.

Levy Thamba, of the Republic of Congo, Africa, began attending Northwest in late January. He apparently traveled to Denver during the college’s spring break.

Thamba’s death remains under investigation, according to Sonny Jackson, a spokesman for the Denver Police Department, but foul play is not suspected.

Thamba fell from a balcony at the Holiday Inn Denver East at 3333 Quebec St. between 3-4 a.m. Tuesday, Jackson said. How far he fell, and what caused the fall, have not been determined, Jackson said.

Emelee Volden, NWC intercultural program manager, said Thamba arrived a few weeks after the semester started.

“He got stuck in that last big snowstorm back East, and his flight was delayed for several days,” Volden said. 

Despite his late arrival, “it was very apparent that he was a stellar student,” Volden said.

Thamba was studying engineering and was taking advanced math.

Although at Northwest for less than a month and a half, Thamba made friends and was very active with the NWC multicultural club and events.

“His social life showed that he was a very nice person,” she said. “He made a lot of friends in a short amount of time.”

Thamba came to rural Powell from Kinshasa, a city of 9 million people and the third largest urban area in Africa.

Thamba wrote an essay to qualify for an international scholarship program. In his essay, Volden said, he spoke of his brother’s encouragement for him to fulfill his dream.

In December, Thamba wrote a tribute to Nelson Mandela on Facebook. Like millions of other young people, he also posted photos of family members and friends.

He displayed his interest in the TV show “Top Gear,” musician Bob Marley and NBA star Dwight Howard.

Thamba’s death is “pretty devastating,” Volden said. “It’s shocking, so sad. He made such an impression in so short an amount of time.”

News of Thamba’s death prompted many people to post on Thamba’s Facebook page messages of shock and grief and expressions of support for his family.

“Your value was one all cherished,” wrote Leronz Otarel Nkosi. “The world has lost a true gentlemen.”

The NWC Intercultural Program plans a memorial in Thamba’s honor at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in the lounge at the NWC DeWitt Student Center.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of NWC student Levy Thamba,” states a post on the program’s Facebook page. “He will be greatly missed by his friends and family around the world.”

— Tribune Managing Editor Tom Lawrence contributed to this story.


  • posted by Beverly Rezende Blake

    February 10, 2015 2:55 pm

    I don't know this young man, but I am saddened by this story. I send prayers to his family, classmates and all that seemed to have wonderful words to say about him. May he RIP.

  • posted by M.

    April 04, 2014 4:12 pm

    Should have known someone would try to blame the cookie. It's the only reason why the mainstream media, feeding off of controversy, has jumped on this story.
    I hate to hear about what happened, but don't blame the cookie.

  • posted by TheRightOne

    April 04, 2014 7:10 am

    LOLOL, and they said POT doesn't do harm.

    1. Who ever supplied the cookie should be charged with manslaughter

    2. The FACTS, Marijuana is dangerous and can end in death.

    3. Pot, like anything else living will go bad. When you smoke bad, fungus filled pot, you 100% do damage to your lungs. First sign is coughing up black tar.

  • posted by Frank Pelteson

    April 02, 2014 12:43 pm

    Does anyone know why he ate that Marijuana Cookie?

  • posted by Neo Mohajane

    March 17, 2014 3:03 pm

    I met Levy in a bus travelling between Allens Nek (the surburb we lived in in Johannesburg) and Parktown where he matriculated. My 7 year old son also attended Holy Family College where Levy was a matriculant and I was immediately drawn to him because of his responsible manner, which led me to entrusting him with travelling with my son the rest of the way to school. I wish to express my condolences to the family for the loss of such a remarkable young man!!! My family's prayers are with you all. Neo Mohajane, South Africa.

  • posted by Herve Matangwa

    March 17, 2014 12:01 pm

    He was like my lil bro.we used to play soccer together he always wanted to play as a very close to his brothers Dan and Donis.he was a big fan of gona miss him so much.levy we all gona miss speechless

  • posted by Mike Takkos

    March 15, 2014 12:07 pm

    The learners and staff of Holy Family College in Johannesburg, where Levy completed his high school last year, will be holding a memorial service in the school chapel at 14:00 on Friday 21 March.His family are in our thoughts and prayers.

  • posted by Alar

    March 15, 2014 8:00 am

    It is a sad situation. The police better find the cause of his death.

  • posted by Azzeddine Bourachane

    March 14, 2014 6:38 pm

    When I first met levy, it was not hard for us to get along with each other. We both enjoyed speaking French, which we miss a lot. Levy has never been a friend to me; I always took him as a brother. I shared with some of the best moments at Northwest. I have never called him by his name. whenever he heard the name "AZZE", he would immediately know it was me calling him. We will all miss you "AZZE", may GOD bless you and forgive your sins, AMEN.

  • posted by Mitha Muamba Pongi

    March 14, 2014 2:07 pm

    So sad and angry about what happened to you my young brother. Just realized that all projects we had together just vanished. Will keep you in my heart forever. You've gone so early. Being a Christian Family, we highly believe in God Justice and for sure culprits will be judged by God himself. I'll forever miss your kindest and you'll remain unique. Your elder sister who loves you so much.

  • posted by Kutlwie

    March 14, 2014 3:32 am

    I doubt one could find a truer gentleman. Always calm and collected, a role model to both young and old.

    Sadness and melancholy fall fail to describe the pain and emotional turmoil induced by losing Levy.

    R.I.P Levy Thamba

    Much love: "Rose"

  • posted by sarah ngoma Thamba

    March 13, 2014 11:28 pm

    I want to see my bro.
    The genie of my family.
    O my god,it don't trueeee,aaaa

  • posted by Emelee Volden

    March 13, 2014 12:03 pm

    Levy was a wonderful student and young man and he will be greatly missed by the NWC community. We hold his family in our thoughts as they deal with this tragedy.

    The gathering on Sunday will begin at 6:00, not 6:30.

  • posted by Gary Staebler, Tribune Staff

    March 13, 2014 11:47 am

    Benjamin, thanks for pointing that out. We've corrected it.

  • posted by LK

    March 13, 2014 10:23 am

    This is sad news. May God comfort his family.

  • posted by Benjamin

    March 13, 2014 10:13 am

    Levy truly was an amazing person, I've had the chance of meeting and studying with him in South Africa. His death still is a shock to all those whose lives he has impacted on. He was a diligent student, hard worker and good friend to so many people. No words can describe the pain of losing such a young, dedicated and friend man. All I pray for is that his soul may rest in peace and that his family may find the strength to deal with this tragedy.
    He shall be dearly remembered.

    P.S: The city is actually Kinshasa.

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