The University of Connecticut is mourning the deaths of two sophomores after a tractor-trailer and passenger car collided Friday afternoon in Columbia, Connecticut, killing the two teenagers and injuring two others.
Alana Ferrante, 19, of South Windsor, and Ryan Meegan, 19, of Ridgefield, died in the accident. Ferrante had just transferred to UConn from Central Connecticut State University as a pre-kinesiology major and was involved in the CT Volleyball Academy.
Meegan, a pre-teaching major, was involved with UConn’s First Year Experience program and competitive soccer and rugby groups on campus.
“Alana Ferrante and Ryan Meegan touched many lives at UConn and in their hometowns of South Windsor and Ridgefield, respectively,” UConn President Susan Herbst wrote in a university-wide announcement. “The heartfelt tributes shared by their friends have demonstrated how widely and deeply they were loved and valued.”
UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said Ferrante and Meegan were held in the highest regard by all who knew them on campus.
“Alana Ferrante and Ryan Meegan epitomized the very best of UConn,” Reitz said. “Our deepest sympathies go out to their friends and families.”
Cody Zitkus, 3rd-semester allied health major, went to high school with Ferrante and transferred from CCSU to UConn with her this year. He said there are some things that he likes to remember about Alana, things that make him happy to know that she lived the greatest life she could.
“She loved the outdoors, we would always try to get outside when it was nice out to go on hikes or just be in the sun. She had an obsession with her dog Zoey. I used to tease her for it all the time,” Zitkus said. “Her dog lost most of her teeth so her tongue wouldn’t stay in her mouth, Lana thought it was the cutest thing. She loved animals more than anyone I know. I used to tell her she was like the real-life Ace Ventura.”
“I don’t know what I’ll miss about her most. She was just one of those people that everyone loved,” Zitkus said. “I loved being around her because I could always be myself. Even if we had nothing to do we’d be laughing and having a great time.”
William Blatter, 3rd-semester business major, met Meegan during his freshman year at UConn. Blatter said that the two of them saw each other everyday and had been best friends since.
“Ryan had the most unique sense of humor I’ve ever seen, he could make anyone laugh with the simplest of jokes. He was the wittiest person I’ve ever met,” Blatter said. “He was a great friend and cared about everyone, and was also the biggest goofball I’ve ever met.”
Blatter said that he and Meegan played rugby together and that Meegan also made the club soccer team this semester.
“He was a very special person,” Blatter said. “He could always make anyone smile regardless of his own situation.”
The UConn men’s soccer B club team won Saturday 4-0 and won Sunday 6-0. They said that they played for Meegan and know that they made him proud.
One of the two others injured in the crash was another UConn student, whose name the university did not release.
“We also extend our support and concern for a third UConn student who was injured in the same collision,” Reitz said. “While we cannot discuss specifics of the individual’s condition out of respect for the student’s privacy, the University is united in its hope for a swift and full recovery.”
Reitz said UConn encourages anyone who needs assistance to contact Counseling and Mental Health Services for confidential help in dealing with the difficult news.
“UConn immediately reached out to friends and others on campus who knew Alana and Ryan,” Reitz said. “A team of professionals from throughout the university are discussing ways to help our students, faculty and staff, and others in whatever ways necessary.”
Herbst also wrote in the official statement that a group discussion will take place Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the CMHS office on the fourth floor of the Arjona Building.
There was a vigil held Sunday night at 7 p.m. in the North Campus multi-purpose room to honor and remember Ferrante and Meegan.
Maggie McEvilly is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.