COLLEGE PARK, MD. (WJZ) — The parents of a University of Maryland student who died after contracting adenovirus believe the University is responsible for her death.
And now, they’re taking steps toward legal action against the school.
Olivia Paregol was so sick with an aggressive strain of the virus that she had to be taken to the ICU. Her dad said the University failed her daughter.
“We truly are just suffering,” said Ian Paregol, her father.
Six months after his daughter died, he is still reeling from the pain.
“She’s a great friend, a fantastic daughter, smart, witty and she’s beautiful. I can’t believe she’s gone,” Paregol said.
The UMD freshman died in November after the strain of adenovirus attacked her respiratory system. The virus sicked more than 40 students at College Park last fall- and Paregol believes the school is to blame.
“We feel that they are a hundred percent responsible for the ultimate outcome here and Olivia paid the price of their decision to put their public relations ahead of their public health,” Paregol said.
The Washington Post reported that on November 1, the school was alerted to a case of the virus. On November 2, Olivia- extremely sick- went to the University’s health center.
Her parents eventually took her out of school to the hospital. She died on November 18.
The next day, the University Health Center sent out a campuswide alert about the virus.
This week, her family filed a notice of claim with the state.
Attorney Andy Levy does not represent the family, but he said this is a necessary step before a potential lawsuit.
“Maryland has given permission in this statute called the tort claims act, but they require people who want to sue the state to jump through some hoops. One of the hoops that you have to jump through is you have to give the state advance notice that you may be filing a lawsuit,” said Levy, a partner at Brwon Goldstein Levy.
President Wallace Loh said the University is “heartbroken by Olivia’s death,” and in a statement, he also said the University exceeded CDC guidelines and “We are confident that our actions last fall were appropriate and timely. And we continue to make improvements to our residence halls to ensure the well-being of current and future students,”
Paregol had Chron’s Disease, which made her more vulnerable to adenovirus.
Last fall, she was one of hundreds of students who were exposed to mold in a residence hall- which her father believes could have made matters worse.
“The University just failed the students, failed Olivia in every possible way, not just from the adenovirus, but from the mold also,” Paregol said.
Paregol said filing this notice is not about money. But he wants the University to change things in the future and alert students sooner if there is even a slight sign of an outbreak.
He said he thinks that would have saved her life.
To read the University’s full statement, click here.