UPDATED OCT. 17 at 11:02 p.m.
A University of Connecticut student was killed by a UConn Fire Department SUV on the Storrs campus early Sunday morning, according to state police.
Jeffny Pally, 19, was a sophomore from West Hartford pursuing a career in nursing. She was a member of Delta Gamma and a rising member of UConn Community Outreach, as well as an RA in Northwest Residence Halls.
A candlelight vigil is being held for Pally tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 18, from 7-10 p.m. on Fairfield Way. It’s being hosted by the UConn Indian Students Association to honor Pally, who her friends describe in the Facebook event as “an exemplary undergraduate student” and a “close friend of many.” Students, friends and family will share memories of Pally. The wake and funeral are set for Wednesday, Oct. 18 and Thursday, Oct. 19 in West Hartford.
The incident occurred outside the UConn Fire Department, where Pally was seated with her back against garage door for emergency vehicles, according to the state police report. A UCFD Chevrolet Tahoe, driven by Dana E. Barrows Jr., 60, of Storrs, responded to a call at approximately 1:13 a.m, and Pally was hit by the vehicle as it exited the garage.
The State’s Attorney’s Office and the Connecticut State Police will be leading the investigation. The Hartford Courant reported Barrows is on “administrative duty position as the investigation continues.”
Pally is remembered by her peers as an ambitious student who was full of excitement, said Jessica Oknin, a May 2016 graduate and former program director at Community Outreach. Oknin worked closely with Pally on the Husky Classics Special Olympics soccer tournament last spring.
She had a large impact on those she met and was especially involved in the Special Olympics, Oknin said. She was also just selected as program director for the R-Word campaign, a campaign to “Spread the Word to End the Word.”
Her devotion to community service and the Special Olympics was only a fraction of how she positively impacted those around her, Oknin said.
“She had so many great ideas and was so passionate about the Special Olympics…Her energy was contagious and all the committee members and athletes could feel it,” Oknin said.
Alex Loukellis, a seventh-semester finance major, met Pally during her first semester at UConn. They worked at Bookworms Cafe in Homer Babbidge Library. Loukellis was the supervisor, but Pally had his back. Always on time, always smiling and always on the ball, Loukellis knew her as a heavily-involved student, a strong employee and a dependable person.
“She was super bubbly all the time, super funny, always extremely easy to talk to, easy to connect with and she really cared. When you talked to her you could tell that she was truly interested in what you had to say. She just loved to get to know everyone,” Loukellis said.
Among the dozens of students posting on Facebook, recalling memories of Pally and mourning the loss of a friend, Loukellis wrote a brief message.
“Rest in peace Jeffny Pally. You will be truly missed. Thank you for making work at Bookworms bearable and for introducing me to one of my closest friends at UConn. You are loved,” he said.
Far and wide, students extended condolences. Rodney Purvis, senior guard and top scorer of the 2015-2016 season for the men’s basketball team, tweeted that he didn’t know Pally but wanted her family to know he was thinking of them.
So sad and such tragedy right on our campus. Rest In Peace Jeffny Pally, didn't know her just want to send my condolences to her family.
— Rodney Purvis (@rpurvis15) October 17, 2016
“Every student is precious to us, and this is a heartbreaking and tragic loss,” UConn President Susan Herbst wrote in a public statement. “Our deepest sympathies go out to her family, friends, and all those whose lives she touched. We know that words cannot begin to express their grief.”
UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said students are encouraged to make use of Counseling & Mental Health Services (CMHS) if they seek support. Students can make an appointment at 860-486-4705 from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. CMHS is located on the fourth floor of Arjona.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Trooper Mark DiCocco of the Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Squad at 203-630-8079.
The Daily Campus will continue to update this story.