CU offers help

Counseling resources for those affected by Michael Hoffman's passing are available through the University of Colorado Office of Victim Assistance at cuvictimassistance.com or 303-492-8855, or the office of Counseling and Psychological services at counseling.colorado.edu or 303-492-6766.

A 21-year-old University of Colorado student died after a night of partying during the first week of classes last month, campus officials announced Tuesday, marking what is believed to be the first alcohol-related death of a CU student since fraternity pledge Gordie Bailey died of alcohol poisoning in 2004.

Michael Alexander Hoffman, an open-option major from New Jersey, was found unconscious on the doorstep of a house at 1429 10th St. around 1:40 a.m. on Aug. 26, according to a Boulder police report. One of the residents, who said that she did not know Hoffman, found him on her front porch and called 911.

Hoffman was taken to Boulder Community Hospital, but never regained consciousness. He died Aug. 30, according to the university, just seven days after he turned 21.

The Boulder County Coroner's Office on Tuesday said the cause and manner of Hoffman's death still are being investigated. Toxicology tests often take several weeks.

"We are saddened to hear of the passing of one of our students, Michael Hoffman, and we extend our thoughts and prayers to Michael's family and friends," Chancellor Phil DiStefano said in a statement, adding that the death is a tragic reminder to all students to be careful about their alcohol use.

"The loss of any of our students is a blow to our community and a harsh limit placed on the future of our world," he said. "I believe this is a challenge to us to continue our efforts in alcohol and drug education, as well as a strong incentive to strengthen our partnerships with the city of Boulder and other stakeholders to reduce the often tragic role that alcohol and drug abuse play in our state and community."

Looking for Adderal

When police found him, Hoffman's face was "a grayish color and he was lying in a puddle of vomit," according to the report, and authorities said they smelled a strong, distinct odor of alcohol.

The university said that it appears Hoffman had been out drinking and socializing with friends earlier that night, but at some point became separated from them. A Boulder police officer who went through Hoffman's phone while searching for emergency contacts found several missed messages from a friend asking, "Why do you always get so (expletive) up" and, "Where are you?"

Other messages show Hoffman may also have been trying to buy Adderal earlier that night; the prescription drug, used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a stimulant like cocaine and methamphetamine.

The police officer found a text Hoffman sent earlier in the night that said, "Let's get (expletive) up and do addy!," which police say is a reference to Adderal.

According to police, a friend named Andrew replied, "The whole state is dry right now." Hoffman, police noted, responded, "Let me know if you find some and I'll buy it from you."

Several residents in the area where Hoffman was found told the Camera on Tuesday that they did not recognize Hoffman's name and do not believe he lived in the area. Officials still are unclear where Hoffman came from or why he was in the area.

While Adderal has been known to be used as a study aid on college campuses, students queried by the Camera on Tuesday said they hadn't heard about it being used as a party drug.

"No, I've never heard of people doing that," CU sophomore Reed Thompson said. "It's a bummer that people feel the need to drink too much in order to have fun and put themselves in danger."

Gordie's legacy

If Hoffman's death ultimately is ruled to be alcohol-related, it's believed that it would be the first student alcohol death since Bailey's in 2004, Boulder campus spokesman Bronson Hilliard said.

Bailey, a Chi Psi fraternity pledge, died of alcohol poisoning after fraternity brothers took him and other recruits into the mountains for a hazing ritual that involved drinking whiskey and wine.

In the years since, CU dramatically increased its alcohol-education efforts.

"We've sent out more messages about alcohol and drugs in the last seven years than any time in the university's history," Hilliard said.

Hilliard said that the school knew Hoffman was in the hospital the night he was admitted, but could not announce his death until the coroner's office publicly released Hoffman's identity Tuesday.

A campus-wide e-mail regarding Hoffman's death was sent Tuesday afternoon.

"Whether there was a student death or not, we want to try and prevent this and to get it into students' heads to consider their safety around issues like drugs and alcohol is paramount," Hilliard said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or byarsm@dailycamera.com.