Maggie Schneider, a junior biology major studying at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, died Wednesday afternoon from injuries suffered during an auto accident caused by a drunk driver Saturday night.
Schneider, a native of St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, was remembered by friends as a vibrant, caring and energetic person.
"She was always involved, she was always cheerful, she was always looking for ways to help people and take part in anything that was happening in the Marine Lab," said Gail Cannon, the lab's academic coordinator.
At Duke, Schneider had been an active member of the Project WILD wilderness organization, and was an avid runner, serving as treasurer of the Duke RoadRunners. Schneider was also involved in Wilderness Opportunities for Durham Students, and worked at the Primate Center.
Caroline Patterson, a freshman and Project WILD member, recalled that Schneider was a generous and caring team leader.
"We were hiking through the woods, we were going at what seemed like a 45-degree angle, we were off the trail with 40-pound packs on our backs and she's smiling and encouraging us," Patterson said. "She's never down, she tells us we can do it and thinks of ways we can do it."
Michael Orbach, director of the Marine Lab, said he had gotten to know Schneider throughout the semester in Beaufort. He said that among the things they had in common was an interest in surfing.
"I'm an old surfer. Maggie, and her brother as well, are kind of neophyte surfers," he said.
Orbach stressed that he would remember Schneider as incredibly energetic, bright and full of fun.
"The first thing that has become clear this week is the incredible number of people she knew everywhere," he said.
Patterson said friends at Duke held a vigil Monday night, hoping their friend would pull through, and recorded audio messages for her and her family--including a rendition of one of the songs they sang on hiking trips, "Build Me Up Buttercup." She added that Wednesday night, her friends held a memorial for her in the Few Quadrangle commons room.
Orbach said Schneider's condition started to deteriorate Wednesday morning and she died around 2:30 p.m. at the hospital, in Greenville, N.C.
Schneider's parents, Dave Schneider and Barbara Mayer, who flew into Greenville Sunday night, and other family members were by her side when she died.
Schneider remained unconscious since the accident. She was traveling with two other friends, Megan Mobley and Melissa Smith, also juniors, through Smyrna, N.C., on the way back from Thanksgiving holiday in Nags Head, N.C. Her two friends avoided major injuries and returned to the Marine Lab, where they were also studying.
The car, a Honda Civic, was hit by a pickup truck around 6:35 p.m. Saturday night, according to reports from the North Carolina Highway Patrol. The car was traveling south on U.S. Highway 70 when the truck, traveling north, ran off the road and swerved back across the center line, hitting the Civic and another car behind it.
Although the truck's occupants fled the scene, the driver was later located and charged with driving while intoxicated, driving with a revoked license, hit-and-run driving and leaving the scene of the accident.
Schneider remained pinned in the car for 30 to 45 minutes before rescuers could extract her and transport her to the hospital, witnesses reported.
Mobley and Smith were taken to Carteret General Hospital in Morehead City, N.C., treated and released. The second car's occupants suffered only minor injuries.
Memorial services for Schneider are planned, but arrangements have not yet been finalized, Orbach said. He added that there may still be a memorial in Durham as well. Counseling services are also being offered for students at the Marine Lab.
Cards and messages for Schneider's family can be sent to: Duke University Marine Laboratory, 135 Duke Marine Lab Road, Beaufort, NC 28516-9721, in care of Belinda Williford.
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