Friends and family gathered at UConn’s Storrs campus Tuesday night to honor Jeffny Pally, a sophomore from West Hartford and a 2015 Hall High School graduate who was killed in a tragic accident early Sunday morning.
By Ronni Newton
A crowd of at least 1,000 assembled on Fairfield Way on the Storrs campus of the University of Connecticut for a candlelight vigil Tuesday evening as friends and family members spoke of Jeffny Pally’s warmth and friendliness, of her ready smile, of her caring nature and devotion.
After listening to the words of others, Shiny Chemmarappally, Jeffny Pally’s mother, was moved to address the gathering.
With her husband Abraham by her side, Chemmarappally thanked God for the courage, immense power and strength, and the “love pouring out from all over” that is helping her endure the tragic death of her daughter. “There is no pain, there’s not going to be a pain in our lives more than this,” she said.
Chemmarappally said her daughter was alway busy, filling every moment of her time. “But she had time for everybody.”
“We are so proud to stand here … we are so happy that she has made an impact on all of your lives,” Chemmarappally told the crowd.
Pally died early Sunday morning after she was struck by a Chevy Tahoe belonging to the UConn Fire Department. According to Connecticut State Police, who are continuing to investigate, Pally had been leaning against the door to a bay at the fire station on North Eagleville Road. Reports indicate that she fell backward when the door was opened so that the shift commander could respond to a call, and was run over. The driver, Dana E. Barrow Jr., has been placed on administrative duty during the investigation.
Friends of Pally painted the iconic rock o the Storrs campus Monday night in her honor, inscribing it with the words, “Heaven has gained an angel.”
Several close friends, as well as other family members, also addressed the crowd at the vigil.
Pally’s cousin, Atul Sajan, lived in her West Hartford home when he first came to America in 2005. He spoke of Pally’s devotion to her family, as a daughter, a sibling, a granddaughter, a niece, and a cousin. “She always knew the right time to give someone a hug,” he said.
Her devotion, and impact, also extended to her friends and the community as a whole, Sajan said. As busy as she was, Pally would always manage to make time for her friends.
“She always held strong convictions that she wanted to help people,” said Sajan. After shadowing at a hospital, Pally knew she wanted to be a nurse, he said.
Pally’s sister Jenny also spoke to the crowd, telling them that one of her sister’s happiest moments was when she was accepted to UConn, where she had wanted to go for her entire life. The other was when she found out she was going to be a resident assistant.
She thanked all for coming, and said that her family was really appreciative. “Jeffny was lucky to be part of this community,” she said.
“I never once saw Jeffny without a smile on her face,” said Sharon Thomas, a friend since freshman year who would have roomed with Pally this year had she not been named a resident advisor. “I have never met someone so loving, so genuine,” Thomas said.
Other friends spoke of Pally as a great listener, as someone who would encourage them to get involved, to step out of their comfort zones, who would help everyone whether she knew them or not. “We connected despite different backgrounds and religions,” said a tearful Jessica Olivar, Pally’s freshman year roommate.
Chris Tweeddale said she was his best friend. “Heaven gained a most beautiful angel,” he said.
Many of Pally’s childhood and high school friends, including those who attend college elsewhere, came to the vigil.
“She always had something good to say,” said Mark Kasumba, a good friend who graduated from Hall High School with Pally.
Jack Monnes also graduated from Hall with Pally, and traveled from Marist College to attend the vigil. “She was just an incredible person,” he said.
Calling hours for Pally will be held in West Hartford on Wednesday, Oct. 19, from 6-9 p.m. at The Church of St. Timothy, 225 King Philip Dr. The funeral will be held on Thursday, Oct. 20, at 10 a.m. at The Church of St. Timothy. For further information, visit the Newington Funeral Home website.
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The incident is being investigated by the State Police and State’s Attorney’s office. We will continue to follow up for updates.