Disabled Mason grad found dead on Dayton campus remembered for courage

A 2019 graduate of Mason High School who died on the University of Dayton campus Tuesday was remembered for his intelligence and courage.

Wheelchair-bound Ben Tavella, a 20-year-old, first-year mechanical engineering student from Mason, was found unresponsive Tuesday evening in his Founders Hall dorm room. He is believed to have died of natural causes, a university official said.

University of Dayton President Eric Spina shared the information about Tavella via email Tuesday night to students, faculty and staff, according to our media partner, WHIO-TV.

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office has Tavella’s body and is investigating his death.

Tracey Carson, spokeswoman for Mason Schools in Warren County, described Tavella as “amazing.”

“Ben was such a fiercely independent, witty, smart young man who had defied many odds and was pursuing engineering,” Carson said.

“Our entire (Mason) Comet family grieves with the Tavella family and we know our community will be looking for ways to support Ben’s family and friends.”

Tavella was an officer in the school’s Kiwanis Key Club for international studies.

Tavella and his family made local headlines in 2014 when he was initially turned down from attending a summer science camp being held in a private Mason school. Officials had expressed concerns about accommodating his wheelchair and other special needs.

A prayer gathering will be held later to mourn Tavella, Spina said.

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