Years ago, members of the USU marching band started calling trumpeter Eric Anderson "Doug." They said he looked like the cartoon character Doug Funnie, and Anderson didn't protest. Instead, he owned the name, dressing up on several occasions as Quailman, the character's superhero alter ego.
Anderson died after riding his bike into a slackline on the southwest corner of Old Main Hill on the Utah State University campus about 5 p.m. Monday. USU spokesman Tim Vitale said Anderson, 24, of West Jordan, sustained upper body trauma, including head and neck injuries.
Tuesday afternoon, his friend and fellow band member Omar Ordonez recalled Anderson's nickname and Quailman outfit, saying it was one of the many things that made him well-liked and friendly.
"He was just a guy who loved people," Ordonez said. "He enjoyed being around people and being with friends."
The slackline similar to a truck-towing strap was stretched between trees about chest high when Anderson hit it. The line was one of two lines set up at the location facing in an east-west direction. In what has become a popular sport, "slackers" balance, walk and bounce along the line, attempting a variety of trick moves.
Anderson was rushed to Logan Regional Hospital after paramedics attempted unsuccessfully to revive him at the scene. He was reported to be unresponsive when transported and declared dead about an hour later.
Several students witnessed the accident, university police said.
Vitale said current university policy does not restrict where students can slackline, and he added that at some point in the future, the university will examine slacklining to see if some sort of rules or regulations should be created. As of Tuesday, no discussions on the topic had occurred as university staff helped those dealing with the loss, Vitale said.
"Today we're keeping our eyes on what's most important, which is rallying around the family and friends," Vitale said.
During a conversation Tuesday, junior Omar Ordonez said he and Anderson first became friends during the marching band's fundamentals training several years ago. Anderson was an easy going and quickly made friends with everyone, Ordonez recalled.
Sophomore Justin Saunders, who participates in an informal group dubbed the "USU Slackline Team," called the incident a "super sad thing" Tuesday. Saunders was not present when the accident occurred and doesn't know the people who set up the line, but said the sport is popular on campus, with 100 people showing up to a recent event. Hundreds more follow the slackline group online via social media.
Saunders said he usually doesn't slackline on Old Main Hill, where the accident occurred, because the slope raises the chance of injury when dismounting or falling off the line. Instead, he usually chooses flat, grassy areas without a lot of cross traffic when slacklining. He also said he recalls seeing people "bomb the hill on their bikes."