Student’s death ‘a tragic accident’

Video of UM Police Chief David Rivero briefing reporters at bottom of page


Kelly Ann Jones’s roommate, Hillary Weiss, has created a Facebook group in the late freshman’s memory.

The group description, written by Weiss reads:

“Kelly Ann Jones passed away the morning of Sunday, April 6th 2008, after taking a fall from the third floor balcony of Mahoney.

She was rushed to the hospital after she was found, and given the best care possible– the doctors were wonderful and kind. Unfortunately, the damage was just too great and after fighting like a tiger to keep living, I guess it was too much, and she slipped away.

I was able to be with her before she passed, I held her hand and told her that we all loved her. So don’t worry– she knew.”

Student wishing to leave messages may do so on the group wall.

The group is called Kelly Ann Jones– Rest in Peace Beautiful Girl



Kelly Ann Jones, a 19-year-old freshman studying marine science and biology, had a heart of gold and a caring demeanor, close friends said.

Jones, who died early Sunday morning, was found semi-responsive on the grassy area outside of Mahoney Residential College around 3:15 a.m. before she was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The cause of death is still unclear, but may have been the result of a fatal injury after a fall from a balcony, Miami-Dade police said.

“That little girl from Kansas,” as close friend Kerry Gaj referred to her, will have her life honored on Tuesday night at a commemoration that is being planned by friends and family. The memorial will take place outside of Hecht, where Jones and friends used to sit.

About 50 students gathered in Hecht Residential College Sunday night as the university stressed its commitment to counseling grieving students.

“It’s your loss, it’s our loss, and I know everyone here is hurting,” said Dean of Students Ricardo Hall. “This was a tragic accident.”

Jones’ floor mates at Hecht originally learned of the death from Residence Coordinator Leyla Al-Mansoori, who hosted a group meeting when they woke up yesterday morning.

Counseling Center Director Pamela Deroian said the floor mates didn’t say much, which she said is normal. The students were provided a free lunch later in the day.

After Sunday night’s meeting, the women of the seventh floor of McDonald Tower, where Jones lived, announced that they were going to “stick together” before they bonded in a group hug.

“To say that Kelly is special is an absolute understatement,” said Gaj, a freshman. “I can’t tell you what that girl meant to me.”

Chief of Police David Rivero said during a press conference Sunday afternoon that he expects more information to be released later in the week after further investigation.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.

Stephanie Genaurdi and Pat Cunnane also contributed to this report.

Karyn Meshbane may be contacted at

Tips for handling grief

Acknowledge the meaning of loss; sometimes using writing, art or music helps
Give yourself time; every person deals with grief differently
Delay making major life decisions
Find and use support systems, such as family members and friends
Stay with a routine, even if it feels like going through the motions

Dialogue e-mail from President Donna E. Shalala
POSTED AT 10:01 A.M.

April 7, 2008

To the University Community:

We don’t really know what happened to freshman Kelly Jones in the early morning hours yesterday.

However, we do know this: Kelly Jones was an extraordinary young woman who loved her many friends, her classes, and life.

She was an excellent student, and she was always ready to turn classroom lessons into life experiences.

Kelly was a world traveler, who already had visited 22 countries and loved the diversity of people and ideas she discovered on our campus.

The death of this young woman makes no sense to any of us. All we can do now is express our deepest condolences to those who knew and loved her.

Please join her family and friends at a celebration of Kelly’s life on Tuesday, April 8 at 9:30 p.m. outside of Hecht Residential College, where Kelly loved to sit with her friends.