Broward County

FSU student from Pompano Beach dies in Israel

Briana McHam
Briana McHam Facebook

A 20-year-old Florida State University student from Pompano Beach, who was in Israel as part of the college’s International Program, died Tuesday during an excursion to an ancient fortress, the program reported on its website.

Briana McHam, who according to her Facebook page went to Pompano Beach High School and was studying criminal law at FSU, was on a 36-night summer program hosted by the Rabin Center in Jerusalem.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our students, who was at the beginning of a life of discovery broadening her horizons,” said James Pitts, director of International Programs in a website post. “Our hearts go out to her family, and we will assist them in any way we can, as well as other FSU students who might be affected during this difficult time.”

According to the website, “International Programs is working closely with local officials to investigate the matter.”

“They have confirmed that after visiting Masada, three students in the program elected to walk down to the bottom of the fortification,” the program reported on its website. "Two completed the walk without incident, but McHam was found deceased.”

Israeli media reported that McHam fell from a path at the popular tourist attraction near the Dead Sea.

Meanwhile, McHam's friends and family took to Facebook to remember the 20-year-old, who was chronicling her journey on her page with pictures from each day.

Her last post was May 17: “ Day Fourteen: Quiz #1, 100% A+.”

Jeanette Blackwell Sameem, who identified herself as McHam’s aunt, said her heart was “broken and in pieces.”

“We lost my beautiful niece Briana McHam today,” she wrote. “Words can't express the ... pain we're feeling.” 

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