By Sujin Thomas
THE body of an American exchange student who died unexpectedly in a university hostel room on Wednesday will be flown home this morning.
Mr Scott Monat, 21, had suffered breathing difficulties in his room at Prince George's Park Residences on the National University of Singapore (NUS) campus.
Undertakers, accompanied by representatives believed to be from NUS, collected his body from the Singapore General Hospital's mortuary at about noon yesterday. They would not comment on where the body was bound, but Mr Monat's family live in Roswell, Georgia.
He had arrived in Singapore two months ago on an exchange programme from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, where he was a top student. He would have spent a semester here as a second-year neurobiology student.
On Wednesday evening (9am Thursday, Singapore time) , a memorial was held for him at Hillel, the Jewish student centre on his US campus.
A lengthy tribute to Mr Monat was also posted on the website of The Miami Hurricane, a university newspaper, by senior writer and business manager Nick Maslow, who was a friend.
Mr Maslow wrote: 'Listening to people talk, laugh and cry about memories of Scott Monat made me want to hear his voice just once more, to be inspired by his charisma and hunger for life one last time.'
Mr Monat is believed to have been up drinking beer with a friend just before he lost consciousness at about 5am, hostel mates said.
Panicked screams brought other students to his aid. He was rushed to hospital by paramedics but was pronounced dead about two hours later at the National University Hospital.
A bottle of pills was also taken away by police.
Hostel mates told The Straits Times yesterday that Mr Monat had been consuming Valium, a tranquilliser, for panic attacks.
Friends in Singapore and the United States have been expressing shock over his death on Internet forums, social networking site Facebook and on The Miami Hurricane website. Many described him as cheerful and outgoing.
He was taking Thai lessons at NUS and had returned last Friday from a week-long holiday in Thailand, friends said.
He was also bright. He was one of 8,200 National Merit Scholars chosen from 1.5 million US applicants before he entered the University of Miami. He also received the Isaac Bashevis Singer scholarship, the highest scholarship awarded at the university.
The American Embassy here told The Straits Times yesterday that it is providing 'all consular assistance to the Monat family'.
Additional reporting by Kimberly Spykerman, Amelia Tan, Teh Joo Lin and Diana Othman
This article was first published in The Straits Times.