Kenneth Baker, a doctoral candidate at Binghamton University, died Sunday after being struck by a truck.
Baker, 26, is survived by Paul and Shauna (Prince) Baker, his parents; Ryan Baker, his sister; and his companion of seven years, Erica Lavallee; all of Whitinsville, Mass.
Baker was crossing a street in Midtown Manhattan early Sunday morning when the tractor trailer struck him.
Police responded to the accident at 3:45 a.m. Baker was conscious and alert, but died in the ambulance on the way to Bellevue Hospital.
There was no alcohol involved in the accident, according to police. No criminal charges were filed.
Baker was born Oct. 6, 1985 in Worcester, Mass. He graduated magna cum laude from Elmira College in 2009, and he earned his master’s degree in sociology from Binghamton University in 2011.
After graduating from Binghamton, Baker became an adjunct professor of sociology at Elmira College, a position he held until his death.
Dale W. Tomich, a professor of sociology and history at BU, was the chair on Baker’s advising committee. Tomich remembered Baker fondly.
“Ken was soft-spoken, humble and very generous,” Tomich said in an email. “He was very intelligent, thoughtful and worked hard.”
According to Tomich, Baker’s work ethic set him apart from other students.
“He had to sacrifice a lot to be in school. He worked more than one job,” Tomich said. “Also he didn’t have a strong background in sociology and had to work to bring himself up to the level that he needed to be at.”
He said Baker used his home state as the basis for his research interests.
“He was developing a very interesting project on how the construction of factories and communities in his native Massachusetts organized social space and shaped patterns of community and labor,” Tomich said.
Tomich said he and Baker last spoke the Friday before Baker was killed. According to Tomich, they talked about the latest developments in Baker’s research.
“He was eager to move forward with his work, and I felt things had really come together for him,” Tomich said. “It was a happy and satisfying moment for both of us.”
William G. Martin, chair of the sociology department at Binghamton University, called Baker’s death a major loss to the University.
“Ken Baker was a talented, warm and generous member of our community,” Martin said. “He will be dearly missed by faculty and students alike.”
Alison Wolfe, associate professor of marketing at Elmira College, said Baker made Elmira a better place.
“Ken was truly an outstanding individual – intelligent, kind, sincere, hardworking, and possessed excellent character and integrity,” Wolfe wrote in an email. “Elmira College was fortunate to have him as a student, Magna Cum Laude graduate, and an adjunct professor of Sociology.”
Visitation hours will be from 4-8 p.m. today at Carr Funeral Home, 24 Hill Street, Whitinsville, Mass. Funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in Saint Patrick’s Church, Cross St., Whitinsville, Mass.
Monetary donations can be made to the Ken Baker Scholarship, c/o Attorney Thomas Baker, 86 Church Street, Whitinsville, MA, 01588.
Students affected by Baker’s death can contact the University Counseling Center at (607) 777-2772.