Regan McCleary, a University of Maine student from Buxton who died Saturday evening, was a quiet, driven athlete and student who excelled in math and opened up around his close circle of friends, his family said.

McCleary, a 19-year-old sophomore, drowned in the Stillwater River in Orono on Saturday evening. A rescue effort with boats and a helicopter retrieved him from the river around 7 p.m., and an investigation by the Orono Police Department is ongoing.

Regan McCleary Photo courtesy of the McCleary family

His family remembered him as a quiet, highly motivated student and athlete whose playful side came out around his close friends.

“He had a good balance,” Kendra, his mother, said in an interview. “He was conscientious, but he also spent a lot of time with friends. The boys.”

In his first year, McCleary earned several academic awards from the University of Maine, including the Alton S. and Adelaide B. Hamm Scholarship, given to select engineering students who display “excellent scholastic attainment, character, and integrity.” He received Dean’s List honors in fall 2019 and spring 2020, and helped his intramural soccer team to the college championship in its first season, his parents said.

In a message to the University of Maine campus Sunday, school officials said the community was “deeply saddened” by McCleary’s passing. A sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, he lived off campus in Orono and was remembered by community members as “a motivated and dedicated student, kind and friendly.”

“Our entire university community is grieving for the loss of a young life,” UMaine Vice President and Dean of Students Robert Dana said in the campus message. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends, his classmates and the College of Engineering community. Our thoughts are with them. This tragedy is a loss for