Luísa Pinho Sartori, a visiting international student from Brazil, died Sunday in a car accident in New York state. She was 20 years old.
A student at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Sartori was studying at Duke during the Fall semester. Sartori was on her way back to campus from Vermont Sunday when the car she was riding in hit the back of another car in traffic on the New York State Thruway, according to a Duke News release. An investigation into the accident is still pending.
Sartori, a back-seat passenger who was wearing her seat belt, died from her injuries at a nearby hospital about an hour after the 1:30 p.m. collision. Three other people in the car were treated and released. Alcohol was not involved in the accident.
Sartori’s friends, senior Rebeca Benchimol, sophomore Daniel Benzecry and freshman Ana Graneiro wrote in a statement that they “rejoiced” at having Sartori as part of the close Brazilian community at Duke.
“Luisa was honest; she said what she felt and felt what she said” they wrote. “She was passionate about life, and lived it accordingly.”
Sartori was studying biology at Duke, and had hoped to eventually work in the Amazon Rainforest, according to her friends. A volunteer at the Lemur Center, Sartori was also studying zoology and ecology.
Sartori arrived in North Carolina with her parents in mid-August and moved into her Central Campus apartment. She wrote about her experiences at Duke on her personal blog titled “Small things that brighten your day,” which she wrote in Portuguese. In her blog posts she described shopping to furnish her apartment, wanting to collect all 50 state quarters and attending her first Tailgate.
In one post accompanied by a photo of the Convocation ceremony in the Chapel, Sartori described her impressions of Duke.
“They have this sense of unity about their University that we in Brazil just don’t,” she wrote in Portuguese. “That ceremony was for every freshman at Duke—there was no division by major or course of study, you know?... Everyone who came in this year is identified like one entity, the Class of 2013. That creates a really cool atmosphere of integration.”
Sartori’s friends said she will be remembered for her energetic and charismatic personality. She enjoyed climbing and the outdoors, they said, and her blog features several pictures from course field trips, the Lemur Center and campus sites.
Terry Lynch, Residence Life and Housing Services’ assistant dean for staff development and Central Campus, sent an e-mail at about 5 p.m. Monday to Central residents notifying them about the accident and about opportunities to seek counseling and write condolence notes. Students should contact Counseling and Psychological Services, residential deans, community assistants, graduate residents, Dean of Students staff or Religious Life staff for counseling.
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