A Rutgers University sophomore died after passing out at a fraternity house early Sunday in what may have been an alcohol-related incident, authorities said.
Caitlyn Kovacs, 19, died at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at 3:19 a.m., less than a half hour after friends noticed she “appeared to be in distress,” said New Brunswick prosecutor Andrew Carey, who has not filed charges, pending an autopsy, according to NJ.com.
Still, cops launched an investigation after hospital officials notified them that initial findings showed the death may have been alcohol-related, authorities said.
Police interviewed frat brothers at the DKE house later in the day. The Rutgers chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon said it has 55 current members. The fraternity offered condolences on its Facebook page.
“As the investigation of the incident is ongoing, Delta Kappa Epsilon is fully cooperating with local and county authorities,” DKE International Executive Director Doug Laphner said in a statement.
Kovacs was a sophomore majoring in animal sciences at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers said. The Monmouth Junction, N.J., resident and South Brunswick High School graduate was at a small gathering at the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity house on campus, the student-run Daily Targum reported.
Friends described Kovacs as energetic, upbeat and involved.
“She was always laughing and making others laugh and smile as well. She was a good kid with a good head on her shoulders,” Melissa Mielko, who went to high school with Kovacs, told NJ.com.
Another high school and Rutgers friend, Aaron Laserna, 19, said Kovacs was involved in school and often planned events.
“She had a lot of energy and always had a smile on her face. She was always happy and fun to be around,” Laserna told the site. “I can’t believe she’s gone.”
The university set up grief counselors at two campus locations Sunday evening.
“Her passing over the weekend is a tragic loss to her family, her friends, and the entire Rutgers community,” Rutgers presidentRobert Barchi said in the statement. “This is a difficult time for everyone.”
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