Norwich remembers Zemanek

In 2012, Micheal Zemanek graduated from Norwich University with a bachelor’s degree in computer security, leadership skills, and aspirations to work in law enforcement. In the early hours of Aug. 1, 2013, he died tragically in an auto accident.

His obituary posted on the Times Argus’ website said the cause of death was categorized as “a catastrophic medical event.”

Late at night on July 31, 2013, Zemanek’s vehicle lost control travelling down Interstate 89 in Waterbury, and crashed. According to his obituary, Zemanek was pronounced dead on the morning of August 1st at Berlin, Vt.’s Central Vermont Medical Center.

Zemanek did not pass away from the accident itself. According to Dr. Elizabeth A. Bundock, as quoted in The Burlington Free Press’s article “Autopsy: Policeman died of heart ailment before car crash” by Mike Donoghue.

Zemanek was born Dec. 6, 1990, in Stamford, Conn. At Norwich, he captained the swimming and diving team, and graduated magna cum laude. He also achieved the Norwich University Garrity Award for athletic and academic excellence, according to his obiturary in the Times Argus.

Zemanek, who served as the deputy sheriff for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in Chelsea, Vt., had been a part time cop while he was a student at NU serving in both Barre and Northfield.

He touched the lives of many, as a cop, a swimmer, an excellent student, and a freshmen platoon sergeant in the Cadet Training Company 10-3.

One of the freshmen, now a cadet major and a senior in the corps, whom Zemanek mentored while at NU, is Abigail Belcher, a 21-year-old senior communications major from Winthrop, Mass. “I was in South Korea for the Army’s CTLT program. I had just gotten back from a tour of the DMZ and I was waiting in the lobby of a hotel waiting for my lieutenant sponsor to pick me up,” Belcher said. “That’s when I checked my Facebook and I redceived a message from Kelsey Monroe, his rook buddy and a good friend of mine, telling me that he had died in a car accident but they didn’t know all the details.“

Because Zemanek had a “hard nosed,” reputation most of his subordinates were not fond of him at first, Belcher said. “We assumed he was just this mean guy who wanted to make our lives miserable. It wasn’t until later in the year we realized how much he actually sacrifices for us, and how much he cares.”

The last time most of Zemanek’s freshmen saw hi Keville says, was for the 2013 Junior Ring Weekend festivities in April, just months before his death . “I really liked junior ring when he said we were family and was proud of us and that he couldn’t be happier,” said Brian Keville, a 22-year-old senior history and education major from Southboro, Mass.,

Keville says that he thought the funeral services for Zemanek were fitting. “They were well done and a really good way for us to say good bye. It helped seeing everyone with the grieving period and knowing we all supported each other,” he said.

The Corps of Cadets also honored Zemanek with an Echo Taps Ceremony on September 3.

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