Parents of UConn student, Jeffny Pally, 19, who was hit and killed early Sunday morning spoke to Eyewitness News and described their daughter as "compassionate," [and] "beautiful, inside and out," with a "smile that could light up a room."
Jeffny Pally's mother, Shiny Pally, and her father, Abraham Pally, cautioned their daughter -- a nursing student, who was involved in multiple sports, in countless organizations, and sorority sister at Gamma Delta, was "overbooked." Mr. and Mrs. Pally told Eyewitness News that Jeffny would often reassure them that she could juggle it all.
"We still haven't seen our child, said Shiny Pally. "Can you imagine that?" When just weeks ago, Pally was visiting home, they said, indulging on some of her favorite Indian food.
"She had high hopes and very hardworking, very compassionate," said Pally. "She always put others first."
Early Sunday morning, University of Connecticut officials announced that a student was hit and killed by a university fire department vehicle outside of UConn's fire station on North Eagleville Road around 1:13 a.m.
Officials later identified the victim as 19-year-old West Hartford resident, Jeffny Pally.
Officials said Pally was seated on the ground with her back against the door of the fire station bay. The student fell backwards onto the ground when the door opened.
A Chevy Tahoe owned by the department then exited the bay to respond to a call, driving over Pally.
Pally's body was found around 2:50 a.m. when firefighters returned from the call.
State police said the driver of the vehicle, firefighter and Storrs resident, Dana Barrow Jr., 60, has been placed on an administrative duty position. Police said he will be unreachable for comment as the investigation proceeds.
UConn President Herbst said in a statement, "every student is precious to us, and this is a heartbreaking and tragic loss. 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."
It is unclear why Pally was outside of the fire house or if anyone saw her before the vehicle returned.
State police and the Rockville State's Attorney's office are investigating.
The mayor of West Hartford, Shari Cantor offered her condolences to the grieving family.
"My heart is broken for her family, friends, and for the entire community. This is such a tragic loss. Jeffny was a sweet, intelligent, and beautiful young lady who brightened up everyone around her. She was a dear friend of my son and our family. I extend my deepest and heartfelt condolences to her family," said Mayor Cantor.
Mr. and Mrs. Pally told Eyewitness News that their daughter was a homebody, and chose UConn because of the proximity to home.
"She wants to see us all the time," said Abraham Pally. "She didn't even apply anywhere else."
UConn spokesperson, Stephanie Reitz told Eyewitness News in a statement that the University is encouraging students to utilize assistance available through the Counseling and Mental Health Service. Faculty and staff are also encouraged to reach out to the Employee Assistance Program if they need support.
Jeffny's cousin, Atul Sajan, told Eyewitness News that he heard the news of his cousin's passing from Jeffny's sister. "She called me crying and she said Jeffny's gone."
"She's just a positive and happy person and the world is a little darker now that she's gone," said Sajan.
A vigil in Jeffny Pally's honor is scheduled for Tuesday at 7pm.
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