Stony Brook sophomore Jocelyn Pascucci, who died Saturday after being found in a Manhattan apartment building, was remembered by friends and family Sunday as a generous and gifted campus leader with a contagious laugh.
Pascucci, 19, of East Meadow, was discovered unconscious about 5 a.m. Saturday inside an East Village apartment building, according to the NYPD. Though the city's medical examiner is still determining the cause of death, alcohol may have played a factor -- exacerbating an underlying heart condition, a police source said. An autopsy was to be performed Sunday, officials said.
A major in marine vertebrate biology, Pascucci also served as a peer mentor for freshmen in the arts, culture and humanities program, according to the university's website. Last year she also helped found the Stony Brook Stand Up Charter, which according to the website, helps "raise awareness about the long-term damaging effects of bullying and homophobia."
Robert Drago, a graduate student who worked with Pascucci in the peer-mentoring program, said she was known on campus as "incredibly outgoing and passionate."
"Everything she did was about helping others," Drago said. "It's sad to see someone like that leave us."
Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. released a statement saying, "There is nothing more tragic than when a gifted and caring young person like Jocelyn is no longer with us, and our hearts go out to her parents, her family, her friends and her teachers, everyone who knew and cared for her."
In a letter to students, Jerrold L. Stein, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said Pascucci "is described by faculty, friends and staff who knew her as being selfless in her dedication to help others. Many described her as a gifted student and as being caring, generous and having a wonderful sense of humor and a contagious laugh."
Her parents were not available for comment at their East Meadow home Sunday.
Diane Pascucci of Wake Forest, N.C., described her granddaughter as "a wonderful grandchild," before saying she was too distraught to comment further.
In a brief autobiography posted on Stony Brook's website, Pascucci described herself as "artsy" and "kind of a science nerd" who enjoyed watching nature documentaries and "just hanging around with friends."
A police source said Pascucci had been drinking alcohol at area bars with friends, when she got separated from the group. A doorman at the apartment building at 125 E. 12th St. near Third Avenue saw her walking with one shoe in frigid temperatures and looking "intoxicated," and brought her inside, said the source.
Paramedics rushed her to Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan, where she was pronounced dead on arrival, police said. No trauma was found on her body, the source said.
Sunday, students outside the residence hall where Pascucci lived said they were shocked and saddened by the news. Edmundo Welker, 19, a freshman who took a class in which Pascucci was a peer mentor, said, "She was always a very nice and happy person. People on campus can't believe it."
With Kevin Deutsch