RYE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Marisa Curlen of Westchester County was just starting out in life, but one night at college changed all of that – permanently.
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, the community of Rye was stunned Friday night at a death that hit too close to home.
Indeed, the news hit like a body blow. Not only was Curlen, a Rye High School graduate, found dead away at college, but she was the third death this year from the Rye High School class of 2013 alone.
“It’s horrible,” said Anjoli Logue, a Rye High School senior. “It’s so tragic. It’s awful to think there are already, like, three people gone.”
“The first one’s the warning,” said Rye High School senior Mike Augusta. “The third? I don’t even know what to make of it anymore.”
Curlen, 20, was found dead early Friday in her dormitory room at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. An autopsy was pending Friday night, but the cause appeared to be alcohol poisoning.
Curlen was a bright-eyed athlete — a volleyball player. The very notion that she would die in such a fashion in her sophomore year — and within months of the deaths of two other classmates who succumbed to drug overdoses – had some Rye residents taking serious stock.
“Sadly, the reason it’s not shocking is, this is not the only town of affluent people with children that are privileged that has a drug and alcohol problem,” said Rye resident Ellen Kaplan.
At Curlen’s family home a short distance from Rye Playland, no one was in a mood to speak Friday night. A family friend said Curlen’s mother was struck silent with grief.
The family friend said he did not see Curlen’s death in any larger context. But others in this town feel in their hearts there is a connection between the three deaths, and something to learn.
“It’s just shocking that they keep coming like this — every time it’s just like, again and again,” said Rye High School senior Jim Palmer. “It’s terrifying, really.”
“It’s scary,” said Rye High School senior Judith O’Brien. “I’m going off to college and I’m very nervous, but I don’t know; it’s very scary.”