URBANA – The Champaign County Coroner on Thursday identified a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student who was found deceased following a fire on campus.
Westley Banks, a 21-year-old undergraduate student from Gurnee, Illinois, who was studying Musicology, was pronounced dead early Wednesday morning. According to the coroner’s news release, preliminary investigation suggests that Banks intentionally set fire to himself.
At 2:47 a.m. Wednesday, police responded to a 911 call regarding a fire on the rooftop of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana. It is believed that Banks was deceased upon officers’ arrival. Police extinguished the flames, and the Urbana Fire Department also responded.
The incident remains an active death investigation, and no official determination has yet been made.
“By all accounts, Westley was hard-working, personable and an enthusiastic student,” said U. of I. Police Chief Jeff Christensen. “We are deeply saddened any time harm comes to one of our campus community members. Our thoughts and sympathies right now are with Westley’s family, friends, classmates, coworkers and anyone else affected by this tragedy.”
His family was notified on Wednesday, and counseling services have been offered to campus community members who may have been affected by the incident.
The University of Illinois Police Department also encourages anyone who may be in need of support to reach out to any of a number of campus and community resources. You may contact the Counseling Center at (217) 333-3704, McKinley Health Center at (217) 333-2701, or Faculty/Staff Assistance Services at (217) 244-5312. After 5:00 p.m. and on weekends, counseling is available through the Crisis Line at (217) 359-4141.
Additionally, Champaign County residents can call 211 to be referred to the appropriate resources, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.
Anyone in immediate danger of harming themselves or someone else should call 911 to reach emergency services. In many cases, the Champaign County police agencies – including the University of Illinois Police Department – may be able to send Crisis Intervention Team officers specially trained to respond during a mental health crisis.