BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Maryland driver killed Saturday when a 12-year-old attempting suicide jumped from an I-66 overpass in Virginia was a Towson University graduate, the school said Monday.
Friends and family say the horrific irony of this ordeal is that 22-year-old Marisa Harris was working towards helping troubled children.
Monday night, many across state lines are mourning the loss of life.
Members of the Harris family say Marisa planned to devote her life to helping children in crisis.
In May, Harris, who is from Olney, earned her degree in psychology from Towson University located in Baltimore County.
She was currently a first-year graduate student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Marymount University in Virginia.
On Saturday, that dream was tragically cut short.
“Uh, one adult male in the backseat. Appears to have gone through the windshield,” was the message heard on police radio.
It was no man, but instead a 12-year-old boy.
Virginia State Police say the boy, in an attempt to commit suicide, jumped from an overpass above Interstate 66 and fell onto Harris’ car, killing her.
The tragedy hit nerve with people here in the area.
“That’s terrible, especially that a 12-year-old would do something like that,” said Virginia resident Lauren Hummel.
“It’s very hard to hear,” said Ellen Shannon, with the Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Police say Harris’ boyfriend was the passenger and steered the car off the interstate, bringing it to a rest on the shoulder.
The Harris family is asking for privacy at this time, but they say they are thankful for all the support from friends and the community at they mourn the loss of their daughter.
Both Towson and Marymount Universities issued statements expressing their grief and addressing the unfortunate irony of how Marisa planned on helping prevent the sort of misfortune that claimed her life.
“The entire Towson University family is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our alumna, Marisa Harris,” Towson spokesman Ray Feldmann wrote in a statement. Marisa was a caring, giving person who intended to devote her life to helping children in crisis. We also send our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the injured 12-year-old boy. This is a horrific tragedy that will forever impact the lives of everyone who knew, loved and admired Marisa.”
Many now hope her death is not in vain.
“Learn the signs of people who may be in crisis and learn what to do in order to proactively help somebody,” Shannon said.
That 12-year-old boy was taken to the hospital with life threatening injuries. There is no word yet of his condition.
Marymount University says an on-campus memorial for Marisa will be held at a later date.