Laurent and Gabriel: a friendship that blossomed on an exchange programme

They were two students who came to London from France to study, and had agreed to extend their stay by a month because they were enjoying it so much.

Last night in France, friends and university teachers spoke of their shock and disbelief at the news of their deaths. Laurent Bonomo was described as a "born leader"; Gabriel Ferez as a "talented scientist".

"I knew Laurent very well," said Claude-Gilles Dussap, director of the Ecole Polytechnique Clermont-Ferrand, where M. Bonomo and M. Ferez had been studying for biochemical engineering degrees. "We worked together on a weekly basis. We would discuss student matters for two or three hours at a time. He was a born leader and a very good negotiator. And naturally, he was a gifted scientist. It was a pleasure working with him."

As part of their course, students are often required to spend time at a foreign university.

M. Dussap said: "I remember just before they left Gabriel told me, 'I'll be going to London with Laurent.' I could tell he was looking forward to the exchange."

The post-graduate students had not planned to go to Imperial College London together. But once they found out they had both been accepted, they grew closer and planned the four-month exchange programme together. They were researching protein chains in DNA.

M. Bonomo, 23, from Velaux, near Aix-en-Provence, was described as "intelligent" and "outgoing". He was active in the academic and social life of the university in Clermont-Ferrand, central France. Last year he was elected president of the university's student union. M. Dussap said his intelligence and concern for fellow students made him a perfect candidate for the position. M. Ferez, 23, from Prouzel, near Amiens, was described as a talented scientist with a bright career ahead of him. "Gabriel took his studies very seriously," said M. Dussap. "He was the type of person who thought before he acted. Once he knew what he wanted, he would set about getting it."

Classes have ended for the summer at the university. Many of its students are at foreign universities, on academic research programmes. M. Dussap said the deaths have led some students to return to France earlier than planned.

Sofiane, a student at the university, said he was sickened by the news. "They were really friendly guys," he said. "They only went to London to study and now they are dead. I thought it was a bad joke at first, but now I realise they're not coming home."

M. Dussap added: "There is only one word to describe the atmosphere at the university at the moment – shock. Pure shock. Laurent and Gabriel were exemplary students."

He said he had received a phone call from the French embassy in London on Monday evening. "They said something bad had happened, but wouldn't tell me what," he said. "On Tuesday I had a second call. That's when they told me that Laurent and Gabriel were dead. It was very difficult to accept. They will be missed."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker