Rutgers University student dies while attending gathering at fraternity house

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ -- Police are investigating the death of a Rutgers University student who died at a fraternity house.

Prosecutors say 19-year-old Caitlyn Kovacs, a sophomore from South Brunswick, was at the Delta Kappa Epsilon house in New Brunswick Sunday when she appeared to be in distress.

Some friends took her to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, where she died.

Police say it appears that Kovacs, who was majoring in animal sciences, drank too much at the gathering and died of an alcohol overdose.

"It's sad, very sad," student Jimmy Lopez said. "Such a young girl. 19, sophomore, it's sad. Very heartbreaking."

The house, on the main campus of Rutgers University, was fairly quiet, and students say the overnight gathering was small. They were shocked when word spread that a student had died.

"It's a shame that you throw it away with just a drink here and there," student Pak Chau said. "And things like this show you that you just have to be careful."

Rutgers has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage drinking. But the university is an open campus, and students admit alcohol is present at parties. But they add that individuals must be responsible.

"Any college campus, it's going to happen," student Morgan Lau said. "People need to learn to control themselves."

The president of the university issued a statement of condolences, saying "Offering our thoughts and prayers to Caitlyn's family and our support to those who knew Caitlyn best and who today are suffering the most."

Meanwhile, the fraternity issued its own statement stating, "We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Caitlyn Kovacs. We also wish to extend our sympathies to the students of Rutgers University as they endure this time of grief and misfortune."

New Brunswick police and the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office are investigating. Officials are awaiting results of an autopsy.

Counselors were made available to students.

Anyone with information is asked to call Lt. Fischer of the Rutgers University Police Department at (848) 932-8025, Detective Abode of the New Brunswick Police Department at (732) 745-5217, or Detective Temple of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office at (732) 745-3300.
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