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Zachary Morris Dies After Accidental Fall;Freshman Drank Alcohol Prior to Accident

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: A front-page article on Friday about the death of freshman Zachary W. Morris incorrectly indicated that video surveillance captured Morris’ fall. In fact, the camera only “caught his image as he explored the dock in a private area,” according to an MIT press release.

By Rosa Cao, Jenny Zhang, 
and Kelley Rivoire

Zachary W. Morris ’09, a resident of Baker House, died yesterday morning after suffering from what appears to be an accident at the East India Wharf in Boston, said Robert M. Randolph, senior associate dean for students. Morris was 19.

Morris had gone to dinner Wednesday night with friends at a restaurant on Franklin Street but did not go home with them, said Denise Brehm of the News Office. Video from a surveillance camera shows Morris looking at the water, climbing up a fence, then falling and hitting his head, Brehm said.

There was no foul play, nor any suicidal behavior, Randolph said.

Richard A. Diaz ’06 said he saw Morris on Wednesday around 11 p.m. at the Crossroads Irish Pub on Massachusetts Avenue, drinking beers with Justin A. Holland ’06 and Neil J. Kelly ’06. Diaz said members of his group were surprised that a freshman was drinking in the bar.

Diaz said he saw Morris drink two pints of beer, but that Morris did not appear to be intoxicated. Morris, Holland, and Kelly left the pub around 11:30 or 11:45 p.m., Diaz said. It was not clear to him whether any additional people were with Morris, he said.

Holland declined to comment. Kelly could not be reached by phone and did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment yesterday evening.

Last December, Kelly and Holland were arrested and charged with “keeping a disorderly house and procuring alcoholic beverages for persons under the age of 21” according to a Dec. 10, 2004 Boston Police press release. The party took place at a house in Allston, where most members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, which Holland and Kelly belonged to, had lived.

Morris hails from Texas, Randolph said. His parents have been notified and are “devastated,” he said.

At a house meeting held at Baker yesterday evening, Housemasters Dava Newman PhD ’92 and Guillermo Trotti, emphasized that support would be available to anyone who needed it, whether through the dormitory community, mental health services at MIT Medical, or Student Support Services. Together with counselors who were also present, they encouraged people not to stay in their rooms alone.

“Certainly we will miss him; this was a tragedy, there was no foul play, no one else involved,” Trotti said.

“He was really into sports, football, he was hardworking … just a great guy, never saw him without a smile on his face,” said Baker House neighbor Reginald E. Edwards ’09.

Another Baker resident, Morgan C. Scully ’09, said “what struck me about him was that he was so happy — always in a good mood, even if he had a pset.”

“He was one to make a lot of friends,” said floormate Kathryn M. Routhier ’09.

Brittany L. Guyer ’09, also from Baker, said, “Zach got along with everyone. He was a genuinely nice kid, and so fun to be around.”