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Students Grieve for Micheletti

Courtesy of MIT News Office
Michele S. Micheletti '00

By Douglas E. Heimburger
Associate News Editor

Students reacted with shock and grief last weekend following the death of 19-year-old Michele S. Micheletti '00 in an accident on Memorial Drive Friday night.

"Ithink it would be fair to say that New House is in a deep sense of shock because of the central role that Michele played in so many people's lives,"said John M. Essigmann PhD '76, professor of toxicology and chemistry and housemaster of New House, where Micheletti lived.

"She was such a good person, and she was friendly to everyone," said Michael K. Dowe II'00, president of New House 3. As vice president of the entry, "she worked a lot during [Residence and OrientationWeek] in getting the freshmen to live there."

"Michele sparkled,"Essigmann said. "She had the rare ability to relate to people on all levels."

Micheletti struck by two cars

Micheletti was crossing Memorial Drive near Macgregor House at around 6:45 p.m. Friday night with a group of four other students, said Lieutenant Paul Maloney of the Massachusetts State Police.

Apparently, two students reached the river side of Memorial Drive, two retreated to the dormitory side, and Micheletti was caught in the middle, Maloney said.

Micheletti was first hit by a 1997 Porsche driven by Feras Binladen, 25, of Charlestown, Maloney said. "She was impacted by the first vehicle and then she was subsequently struck by a second vehicle."

The second vehicle failed to stop at the scene, Maloney added.

Paramedics performed CPR on Micheletti before taking her to Massachusetts General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 7:39 p.m.

A preliminary investigation into the accident revealed that neither speed, alcohol, nor drugs were a factor in the accident, Maloney said. No charges have been filed against Binladen.

Any witnesses to the accident are strongly encouraged to call the State Police.

Parents, deans react to death

Micheletti's parents were concerned about the traffic on Memorial Drive before her death, the Chronicle reported. "Michele, this is very, very dangerous," Elmer Micheletti remembered saying during Parent's Weekend two weeks ago.

"It's ridiculous to have lost a daughter who had gone to college because it was unsafe for her to get to her car," he said. "It's really a mindboggler."

New House is a "very sad, quiet place," said Essigmann. "People smile at you but it's not the glowing smile you're used to. Some of the enthusiasm seems to be gone."

Members of the Dean's Office met with residents of New House and Alpha Phi, Micheletti's sorority, on Saturday, said Leo Osgood, associate dean of students and the dean on call last weekend. "We had representatives from psychiatry, the religious community, the counseling deans."

"It's a very tragic thing and these things come unannounced,"Osgood said. "We were able to pull things together."

Micheletti was majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as part of a full scholarship from the National Security Agency, the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday. She had been the valedictorian of Notre Dame High School in Belmont, California before coming to the Institute.

"If there was a student that needed to talk to someone Michele was the kind of person they would go to," Essigmann said. "She was always busy but she was always willing to put in the time with other students."

Students who knew Micheletti can receive services from the Counseling Deans, or the Medical Center's psychiatry department, Osgood said.

Community remembers Micheletti

Students, administrators, and faculty members all remembered Micheletti for her good-natured spirit and her leadership abilities.

Micheletti served on the advisory board to the task force on student life and learning, where she worked to implement new ideas for bringing faculty and students together in living groups, said Charles StewartIII, a member of the task force who also serves as an associate professor of political science and housemaster of McCormick Hall.

"She seemed to be the type of person who was really interested in getting faculty and students together, and she was not discouraged for thinking outside of the box," Stewart said. Micheletti especially worked to bring faculty members of the task force into dormitories for overnight visits.

"She was an amazing person, involved in everything,"said Alpha Phi president Anya K. Hawrylchak '98. "We knew she was very special to our chapter but we didn't quite know the scope of people who she had made a difference for here."

"It's made us realize how precious the time we have to spend with one another is,"Hawrylchak said.

A petition drive headed by Ceani Guevara '99 to paint a crosswalk across Memorial Drive at Endicott Street near Baker House has been intensified as a result of the death.

Funeral services for Micheletti will be held at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at St. Dunstan's Church in Millbrae, Calif.

A scholarship fund has been established by the youth group Junior State of America, which Micheletti was involved in. Donations can be sent to the family at 1310 Ridgewood Drive, Millbrae, Calif., 94030.