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Prosecutor: Rutgers Student's Death May Be Alcohol-Related

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) -- A Rutgers University student has died after she "became distressed" while attending a small gathering at a fraternity house, prosecutors said.

A preliminary investigation determined that the death of 19-year-old Caitlyn Kovacs may be alcohol-related. But the cause of death has not yet been determined.

Middlesex County prosecutors said the South Brunswick resident was a sophomore at the university.

They said Kovacs was at the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity house in New Brunswick when she appeared to be in distress around 3 a.m. Sunday. Some friends took her to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead a short time later.

Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity house in New Brunswick
Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity house in New Brunswick (Credit: CBS 2)

Hospital officials notified police about the death, which is under investigation by the prosecutor's office and the Rutgers and New Brunswick police departments.

"Her passing over the weekend is a tragic loss to her family, her friends, and the entire Rutgers community," Rutgers President Robert Barchi said in a message sent to the New Brunswick campus community.

The school offered counseling services to students on Sunday.

"This is a time, too, when we need to reach out to one another and show our love, support, and compassion," Barchi said. "This is a time to let each other know that we care and to share our strength and understanding with those in need so that we come through this tragedy with a deeper commitment to each member of the Rutgers community."

Kovacs' friends told CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez they miss her already.

"Every time I would see her, every time we would run into each other, she was always so full of energy," said Aaron Laserna. "She always had a smile on her face."

"She was always there for me as a friend, no matter what," said Jeremy Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said he had been friends with Kovacs since the seventh grade and spoke with her on the phone just hours before she died.

"I sensed some sort of intoxication, but it didn't really occur to me," he said. "I always assume that people are going to be fine."

"She had her whole life ahead of her," said Laserna. "It's kind of just a huge wake up call for all of us that someone that may be here, a friend that may be here today may not be here tomorrow."

Delta Kappa Epsilon International released a statement on Sunday, saying the fraternity is "fully cooperating with local and county authorities."

"On behalf of the International Fraternity of Delta Kappa Epsilon and the Brothers of our chapter at Rutgers University, 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," the statement also said.

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