Family Sues Fire Fighter After Tragic Death of Daughter; Students Arrested in Relation to Incident

The tragic death of a 19-year old University of Connecticut nursing student, Jeffrey Pally, has led to both criminal and civil charges. Pally died last October when she was struck by a fire department vehicle around 1:15 a.m. when the fire department received a call. Pally was resting against the bay door when the call came in. Her body was discovered when the fire rescue team returned to the station after what turned out to be a false call.

Abraham and Shiny Chemmarappally filed a civil suit on behalf of their daughter alleging that the driver, Dana E. Barrow, Jr., operated his vehicle, a Chevrolet Tahoe, in a “reckless, willful and wanton manner, and in a manner that showed reckless and malicious disregard for the safety of other persons” because he did not stop after striking Pally.

Barrow said he felt a bump exiting the fire department, but thought it was fire equipment. He could not see anything in his rear-view mirror and did not realize that he had struck a person until returning to the fire department about half an hour later. Barrow will not be criminally charged, prosecutors have said.

Additionally, six University of Connecticut students were arrested and charged on alcohol-related criminal charges in relation to this case. The students – Patrick Callahan, 21, Matthew Moll, 21, Jonathan Polansky, 22, Dominic Gody, 20 (at the time of the incident), Austin Custodio, 21, and Dylan Morose, 22 – hosted an off-campus fraternity party at a house affiliated with Kappa Sigma the night Pally died.

After the fraternity party where alcohol was served, Pally walked to the fire department on campus on her own. Her blood alcohol level was 0.25 (three times the state’s legal limit of 0.08) at the time of her death. Surveillance videos show that Pally was leaning against the bay door of the fire department for at least 20 minutes before the call came in.

Callahan, Moll, Morose, and Polansky were all charged with permitting a minor to legally possess alcohol. Godi was charged with possession of alcohol by a minor and conspiracy to commit illegal delivery of alcohol to a minor. Custodio, who used the Kappa Sigma fraternity’s credit card to purchase alcohol for the party, was charged with two counts of selling and delivering alcohol to minors.

Pally’s death has been ruled an accident according to the chief medical examiner.