19-Year-Old Rutgers Student Dies After Passing Out at DKE Fraternity House

UPDATE (11:21 am): This article has been updated to include statements issued by the Rutgers President and the DKE International Fraternity.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–A 19-year-old Rutgers sophomore died in the early morning hours of Sunday September 21, after being taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital from a fraternity house by friends.

Caitlyn P. Kovacs, of the Monmouth Junction section of South Brunswick, was pronounced dead at 3:19 am, according to a statement released by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

Kovacs graduated from South Brunswick High School in 2013 and was studying animal science at Rutgers' School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.

A preliminarily investigation "determined that Ms. Kovacs was taken to the hospital by friends at about 3 a.m. when she appeared to be in distress while attending a small gathering at the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity house at 78 College Avenue," according to the release.

"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," said Doug Lanpher, the Executive Director of Delta Kappa Epsilon International.

"Delta Kappa Epsilon is fully cooperating with local and county authorities."

Police began the investigation after hospital officials called at 3:28 a.m. to alert them to the student’s death, according to the release.

"Meet [RWJ security] at the ER [emergency room].  Somebody just transported a female looking to be a [dead on arrival] to the ER," said a dispatcher on the police radio.

Officials said that the death "may be alcohol-related," but that the cause of death will not be officially determined until an autopsy is done.

Rutgers President Robert Barchi released a statement this morning, saying that "We are deeply saddened to report the passing of Caitlyn Kovacs… Her passing over the weekend is a tragic loss to her family, her friends, and the entire Rutgers community."

"I know this is a difficult time for everyone. We are offering grief counseling at two locations today at 7 pm. Staff will be available for counseling at the Student Activities Center (College Avenue Campus) and in the College Avenue Student Center," said Barchi.

Barchi said one-on-one counseling is also available and encouraged anyone interested to call Counseling ADAP & Psychiatric Services at (848) 932-7884, or visit http://rhscaps.rutgers.edu/.

"Our counselors can provide support services, understanding, and assistance to help anyone in the student body better cope with this situation."

Investigators from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO), as well as both the New Brunswick and Rutgers University Police Departments are involved in the investigation.  The MCPO characterized the investigation as "active" and "continuing."

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.

Editor at New Brunswick Today | 732-993-9697 | editor@newbrunswicktoday.com

Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.