Students and staff at Rutgers University are in mourning after the sudden deaths of two of their own.
19-year-old Caitlyn Kovacs was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital after she appeared to be “in distress” at a party at the Delta Kappa Epsilon house early Sunday morning. She was pronounced dead at 3:19 a.m.
Although an official cause of death is yet to be determined, alcohol is believed to have played a part after police reports indicated that Kovacs drank too much at the gathering.
“We are deeply saddened to report the passing of Caitlyn Kovacs,” said Rutgers President Robert Barchi in a statement. “Her passing over the weekend is a tragic loss to her family, her friends, and the entire Rutgers community.
“I know this is a difficult time for everyone. We are offering grief counseling at two locations today at 7 pm. Staff will be available for counseling at the Student Activities Center and in the College Avenue Student Center. Our counselors can provide support services, understanding, and assistance to help anyone in the student body better cope with this situation.”
We are deeply saddened to report the passing of soph. Caitlyn Kovacs. Counseling is available at 7 p.m. at SAC and CASC. Call 848-932-7884.
— Rutgers University (@RutgersU) September 21, 2014
Kovacs graduated from South Brunswick High School in 2013 and was studying animal science at Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.
“‘She was always involved in planning pep rallies and the powder puff games and stuff like that,” Aaron Laserna, friend of Kovac, told reporters. ”She had a lot of energy and always had a smile on her face. She was always happy and fun to be around. I can’t believe she’s gone.”
I'm so much shock right now… I can't believe this, I graduated with her…Rip to Caitlyn Kovacs?? you will be missed??
— Bryce Knoblock (@brycetaylor8) September 21, 2014
At this time no charges have been filed against Delta Kappa Epsilon or any of the 55 Rutgers members but the incident remains under investigation.
Doug Laphner, president of the Rutgers chapter of DKE, said in a statement, “On behalf of the International Fraternity of Delta Kappa Epsilon and the Brothers of our chapter at Rutgers University, we would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Caitlyn Kovacs. We also wish to extend our sympathies to the students of Rutgers University as they endure this time of grief and misfortune. As the investigation of the incident is ongoing, Delta Kappa Epsilon is fully cooperating with local and county authorities.”
This wouldn’t be the first time that a chapter in this fraternity has faced controversy. In 2011, the DKE chapter at Yale was banned from conducting fraternity activities on campus, including recruiting, after a pledge event that included sexually-explicit chanting.
Sadly, almost immediately after the death of Kovacs, Rutgers lost another student.
22-year-old Darsh Patel was hiking when he was attacked and killed by a black bear in Apshawa Preserve.
Officials said that the 300-pound male was likely looking for food and was circling the victim’s body when sheriff officers and wildlife officials killed it.
“This is a rare occurrence,” West Milford police Chief Timothy Storbeck said.
Patel was a senior information technology and informatics major at Rutgers University.
RIP to both Caitlyn Kovacs and Darsh Patel.. A devastating weekend for the Rutgers community. My deepest condolences for both families ❤️
— Hannah Wilkins (@_hannahwilkins) September 22, 2014