Montclair State Mourns Loss of Graduating Student

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Published December 21, 2019
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The Montclarion
Michaela Powell was expected to finish her degree requirements at the end of the fall semester. Photo courtesy of Instagram

The Montclair State University community is in mourning after the tragic death of student Michaela Powell.

Just before midnight on Friday night, a fatal car crash in Woodbridge, New Jersey resulted in the death of three young women – Powell, 23, Brianna Martinez, 23 and Uchechukw Chukwuma, 24. They graduated from Franklin High School in Franklin Township, New Jersey together in 2014.

Powell was a senior studying psychology at Montclair State and was expected to earn her degree at the end of this semester.

Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life Karen Pennington stated that Powell was on track to complete her degree requirements at the conclusion of this semester and had a bright future ahead of her.

“We are deeply saddened to hear about the tragic death of our Red Hawk, Michaela S. Powell,” Pennington said in a statement. “I send our sincere condolences to Michaela’s family and friends. May you all find peace during this difficult time.”

Since the news broke, family and friends of Powell have flooded to Facebook and Instagram to remember the three women and offer support to both the families and the Franklin community. On Saturday morning, Powell’s mother published a post on Facebook sharing the news.

“I do not post much that is personal but do not have current emails for many friends & family so am posting this sad news

Our daughter Michaela was killed in a car accident around midnight tonight 12/20-12/21

Thanks to all for the outpouring of support …”

Her post has received hundreds of comments offering prayers and support.

Trevor Smith, a friend of Powell’s, spoke with The Montclarion over Instagram direct messaging and remembers her for being a free spirit with a big heart.

“She was an outstandingly free spirited young woman with nothing but love to give,” Smith said. “It’s unfortunate at this time that we as a family [and] friends have to go through this right now…and at this moment I just know that [I am] keeping the families and friends involved in this tragic moment in my prayers. [Rest in Peace] to my angels.”

Captain Kieran Barrett of the Montclair State Police Department is not able to provide any additional information, but joins the campus community in remembering Powell.

“We join the university community in our heartfelt sympathy for the families of Michaela and her two friends,” Barrett said.

This is a developing story.

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